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Nicola-mod, Moderator
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 21
Experience:  Moderator
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A holiday letting company are threatening to take my 87 year

Customer Question

A holiday letting company are threatening to take my 87 year old father to the small claims court to get £198 from him for damage that they say occurred whilst we were staying in one of their properties. They claim that 2 single mattresses were soiled and stained during our stay and they have had to replace them. Our 4 year old son slept in one of the beds, but the second was not slept in at all. They have completely ignored this and the fact that if it had been our son we would have known about it and accepted the charge. They claim that the damage was so obvious that it could not have gone unnoticed, but we certainly did not see anything wrong before we left the property. What can we do?
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your question . My name is Jo and I will try to help with this.

Are you asking if you can prevent them suing?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

FOR JOMO1972 No. I know they can sue for the money, but what chance do we have of fighting the claim if they do? What are the legal implications of proof etc and if it's just our word against theirs, where do we stand?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
As you know they have the burden of proof to the civil standard. That only means that they have to make the Judge more than 50% sure that there was damage and that you caused it. That isn't the highest test but its clearly an onus upon them.

Whether or not the damage would have been visible to you is really a red herring. The only issue is whether or not they can show it was not there before but was there afterwards. I suppose their argument may be that it is so obvious that if had been there when you got there you would have reported it immediately. That might be the point they are making. That will turn upon the facts of the case though.

Overall, if the second bed in question wasn't used by you then in principle they should not be able to attribute it to you.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

It would not have been visible to us when we got there because the beds were made up ready for use and it is not a normal process to strip the beds and check the mattresses. What's the best thing to do? just ignore them?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
I think probably that they are saying that you would have noticed when you got in though. I don't know whether that is meritorious or not but I think thats their argument.

Its always worth trying to negotiate with them. At least writing to them setting out your position.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

We have written 3 times now stating our position i.e. :

1. we experienced no accident

2. we were not aware of any problem on leaving - and if as noticeable as they say we would have been aware

3. we did not notice anything on arrival as there was clean bedding on the bed so one wouldn't see an old stain on the mattress

4. we left the property clean, emptied bins, cleaned kitchen etc as we would always do vacating the property as we found it

5. we are not happy they continue to write to my 87 year old father when we have informed them it is causing him significant distress

6. we are also not happy they suggested in a letter my father claim on his holiday insurance when we have been clear no accident occured for him to claim against

As the onus is on them to prove the marks were not there when we arrived presumably they would have to provide a photo of the mattresses with a record of it being taken prior to our arrival ?

Is negotiating our only option as it suggests we feel partly responsible which I know we are not?

Expert:  Jo C. replied 4 years ago.
No, they don't have to provide a photography but they will have to provide a court with some evidence that it was not there before and was there when you left.

You don't have to negotiate. Its just usually worthwhile to avoid litigation although its quite unlikely they would sue for such a small amount anyway really.
Expert:  Nicola-mod replied 4 years ago.

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