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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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What is the legal position re a commitment to utilise a hotel

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What is the legal position re a commitment to utilise a hotel service with a minimum number of nights per year for a small company. After signing up and meeting the first year commitment, the contract automatically renewed and commitment for nights increased 50%( with no notification or reminder of this detail but it had been in original contract ). Midway through second year I left UK and returned home as no longer working with a UK client. Only met 1/3 of commitment and now being chased to pay for remaining 2/3. Also being told that when I collected items stored and said I was leaving, should have given written notice so another year commitment has begun which I will be billed for in April 2016. Again only reminded of this once opportunity for notice had passed. This will break my company ( not a UK company ) if I had to pay in full and while this was all in the 2013 contract seems harsh especially given I was not guaranteed a room at any time and the chain was not holding rooms for me. Also they have the rest of the year and some of 2016 to fill rooms.
Am I under UK law fully liable for a contract for hotel rooms where I have not used them.
Apologies for the long winded question.
Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
I am not with you. Are you paying for the rooms but want to know how many days you need to occupy them for?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Alex, it works like this. I committed to using x number of room nights in a year and was guaranteed a rate card. The contract said that if I did not stay x nights I'd still pay for that many and had left a deposit for approx 10 nights.
Year 1 I met x nights and continued to use the service approx 2 nights a week in year 2 when in the UK. Then circumstances changed and I no longer was doing business in the UK. I had not stayed in a room since September 2014 but am now being billed for the unused nights in year 2. There was no dates pre booked so the hotels were not holding rooms just a guarantee of a rate if a room was available. This was in a contract I signed in early 2013 and one of the terms of that contract was that it automatically renewed the commitment unless I notified them in writing more than 60 days before the anniversary.
Does this make it any clearer. I know it seems unusual but seemed fine at the time and accept that I just forgot about the original contract terms as they never came up again and after 18 months when I left the UK was the furthest thing from my mind. Now they effectively want me to pay for an additional 18 months of nights that I have not used and will not use but because the contract rolled and I only gave verbal notice I was not coming back. In the meantime these room nights are available to anyone online and generally the hotels are full.
I suppose my question is, how binding is such a contract under UK law. Especially for unused services.
Thank you.
What does the contract say about what happens if there is not a mininal stay achieved?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The contract says that I will be liable for the balance of nights outstanding from the minimum commitment unused. In this case currently over 100 nights.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Also, I met the minimum commitment year 1, and the contract just rolled over to a second year. The original contract said it would unless I gave notice but I had forgotten this by now and they never mentioned it again. I assume that is no defence and my fault.
So they are trying to charge you the difference?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes, that's it.
Ok. On what basis don't you think you owe it if that is what you agreed to?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I'm pretty much resigned that I owe the balance of the 2nd year that I partially used but not too keen on being held to a entire 3rd year which kicked in in March 15 even though I have not been there since September 14. This rolling over of the original contract with no contact to ask if I want to roll it just feels off. Perhaps not legally but at least somewhat morally.
The kicker is that rooms are not always available so meeting my commitment would have been challenging in any case.
If there is nothing I can do so be it but the 3rd year with where this is dead expense that I cannot write off as a company expense as their is no business related to it may make it challenging to continue trading.
Perhaps just a case of buyer beware and read the small print repeatedly at regular intervals.
What does it say about term or renewal.?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
The original term was from 2013 to 2014. The term was to renew if I didn't cancel with 60 days notice in writing. I verbally told in December 14 that I was finished when collected garment bag and toiletries I used to leave in the hotel I stayed in regularly.
Give that it was more than 18 months since I had signed the contract I had forgotten about the auto renewal.
Does the agreement say you need to give notice in writing.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Unfortunately yes.
It's bad news I am afraid. If you had a contract which you agreed to and if says you are tied in with a renewal and you need to give written notice, I am sorry to say you are bound.
The only thing you can do is complain about the terms under the unfair terms in consumer contract regulations 1999 that states
which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer.
(2) A term shall always be regarded as not having been individually negotiated where it has been drafted in advance and the consumer has therefore not been able to influence the substance of the term.
Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?
Ash and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for that. At least I know now.
Can I consider myself a consumer as a 2 person Ltd company.

I am just following up to see if there is anything else I can help with?

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