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Turning Down Villa Bookings

  • 2017-08-18

In a perfect world, you should never have to turn down villa bookings. More bookings is good when it comes to short term rentals, aren’t they? Although in theory you should enjoy a high booking rate, there are times when you may want to refuse a booking. Whether it is due to a red flag that makes you wary of proceeding, a violation of your policies or a bounced payment, there are times that you are well within your rights to turn down villa bookings.

Turning Down Villa Bookings

With that said, there are other times that it would not be a good idea to refuse guests. A recent example here in Cape Town is a guest house owner who refused hosting a gay couple’s wedding, on the grounds that it was against their religious beliefs. The result was a social media backlash that also saw the venue stack up a number of poor reviews on Google, Facebook and other platforms. Although many believe that the property was legally permitted to bar entry to anyone, refusing anyone on the grounds of their gender, race or sexuality is seen as discrimination.

So, when exactly is it ok to refuse villa bookings, and how do you go about doing so in a way that does not cause you or your guests any problems? Let’s take a look…

How (And When) to Say No to Villa Bookings

As we mentioned above, it is never ok to turn down bookings due to discrimination based on your guests race, nationality, gender or sexual orientation. Legally, you are only permitted to refuse bookings if there is a valid reason that is not based on discrimination. While it is illegal to refuse a black or gay guest, it is not legal to refuse a booking if it does not meet basic standards of reasonable behaviour. Some of the reasons that you could say no to villa bookings include the following:

  • Guests that have not paid, or those whose payments have bounced. If you have not received a deposit, a deposit has been returned or you are not getting payment in any form outside of accepted methods, you can legally turn down a booking. The best way to approach this is to have clear policies on payments – when they are due, how they can be done, which methods are allow, which are not and what will happen if deposits or payments are not paid on time. This will protect you and prevent any accusations down the line.
  • Bookings that have been flagged as potential scams. With the number of holiday scams doing the rounds, every villa owner will have an attempted scam eventually. There are a number of warning signs that could indicate a scam – payment methods that are not on your list of accepted options, names that are not reflected on bank cards or email addresses, international contact numbers that cannot be easily verified, high value bookings done at last minute, and payment proof that does not look legit. Before bookings are confirmed with this type of guest, make sure that payments have cleared without bouncing. It is also a good idea to stick to your rules and not permit any payment methods that don’t go by the book.
  • Your villa has been accidentally double booked or is shut for maintenance. In the case of double bookings, this happens from time to time. You are perfectly in your rights to cancel a legit booking that has been made – just be sure that you are able to reimburse your guest or find a similar place for them to stay for the dates they have booked. This should be approached carefully and respectfully. Admit to your mistake, and let them know that you are doing everything you can to fix it. If your property needs to close for maintenance and booking has already been made, proceed with the same level of caution and respect. Offer some kind of reimbursement or arrange alternative accommodation.


Looking for expert assistance in managing your villa? Contact Totalstay today to learn more about how a dedicated short term rental manager can assist with booking management, marketing, day to day management and guest concierge. You will soon see how much easier it is to manage your villa bookings with the help of an expert.