The moral here, is that before you book anything at all, look at the cancellation provisions.
If you cancel the booking completely, you have much less chance of getting your deposit back even though I accept what you say that as this is a very popular location, he would have a very little problem in reletting. If he doesn’t relet, and there are no cancellation provisions in the contract other than to say (as it does) you lose everything, then you would be liable for the cost of the booking less cleaning costs et cetera. They would not be able to enforce the full value because you haven’t used the service!
You are responsible for the owner’s loss of profit not the actual cost of the booking because there has been nowhere and tear and no necessity to clean it afterwards.
If he sues you in the Small Claims Court for the extra cost, he is a private individual and so you and hence, the proceedings will be transferred to your local court which may not be particularly convenient for him.
The owner is correct that anything beyond the terms and conditions not outlined in the booking process are at her discretion but nonetheless, do have to be reasonable.
Under the Consumer Rights Act and the previous Distance Selling Regulations you had a statutory right to cancel within formally 7 days and under the later legislation now, 14 days but that doesn’t apply to accommodation. You are probably past that timescale for cancelling anyway.
If you take her to the Small Claims Court to get your deposit back, there is a good chance(subject to what I’m going to say in the following paragraph) that you would not succeed and it would be transferred to the owners local court because you are both private individuals. It would be different if the owner was a company in business of letting out this kind of accommodation in which case, you could ask for it to remain in your home court.
The owner not allowing entry unless you are present is completely unreasonable and it’s unlikely that if as a result of her saying that, you did not go, purely because you were unable, it’s likely that your claim to get the deposit back succeed.
I agree with you, you did make a mistake but the owner is being completely unreasonable in insisting that you attend personally. As I said in my previous reply, suppose you were ill? It might be worthwhile asking the question.
There is nothing in the terms and conditions which assists hinders you except to say that clause 6 says that you are bound by the the accommodation owners cancellation conditions it says that the cancellation/no-show policy is shown on the accommodation owners page of this website and also on the confirmation email. However, as you are aware, there is nothing on the cancellation other than to say that if cancelled modified or in the case of no-show, the total price of the reservation will be charged.
Personally, if the owner is being so obstructive, I would make sure that I had it in writing that no one else can go unless you are present, and then, I would let the matter go to the Small Claims Court.
You might want to wait until the owner sues you for the balance because then you will be defendant and it will be in your home court and then counterclaim for the deposit. That’s what I would do.
One afterthought, this provision whereby the full Contract cost is payable even if you cancelled it 12 months previously, and even if the property gets relet, is probably void under the Unfair Terms in Consumer regulations because quite clearly it is unfair and hence unenforceable.
I’m happy to assist completing any documents that you may ultimately need which I’m happy to submit is a premium service for which there is an extra cost, whenever you wish. Kind regards