Holiday rentals - a nightmare story has shaken me up!

I was speaking to a friend of mine who rents out holiday properties in Portugal. She had a nightmare family in her apartment. They disturbed the neighbours with loud music at night, completely trashed the place and even became aggressive. When she confronted them, they threatened her with violence and she called the police to help her evict them. Sometime after they had gone she received contact that they were suing her for not providing the property for the 'agreed period', claiming that the property was in disrepair (using pictures of the damage they had done themselves) and for emotional damages, including something about them having to call the police about her. In the end it blew over, but it has shaken me a little.

Being as I recently started managing holiday rental properties in Collioure (P-O, 66) on behalf of the owners this story has made me nervous somewhat. My question is: do any other property managers or owners have experience/advice on what kind of insurance would be appropriate for me as a PM?

Let me describe the situation; the apartments are directly on the beach and some have very expensive equipment in them. I do the marketing, collect the rents, do the changeovers etc. everything and pay the owners, less my commission. My fear is that either the guests will break something, hurt themselves or not pay for damages. What could protect me from angry owners? On the other side, if for example, the property becomes unusable for whatever reason and I need to cancel a booking, how do I avoid being sued by angry guests. Any advice or recommendations gratefully received. Merci in advance.

Have you tried working with airbnb? The system seems really flexible to me as you decide if you accept cancellations, how you want them compensated, the deposit and full amount is payable in advance to airbnb which releases the rent once the clients have left and they are the organisation the client yells at, not you!!

I've only used them as a client, but the owners seemed really satisfied. They require a lot of ID and information about renters and seem to have good legal help too. Additionally, owners evaluate renters, so you could look into prospective clients' profiles.

Lulu and Fran Laporte do this. Great friends of mine (I am part of this company also but handle properties in the Gard and holiday rentals only)

Apologies for ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ Remi. I am actually looking to rent out my 2/3 bedroom apartment in Montpellier as a seasonal let. I’ve been researching site for the actual advertising part of it but I don’t know where to start to find someone who can do changeovers, etc. which I need as I live in Ireland. Would you know if there is an agency/company or even somewhere that I could advertise for a reliable person to do this for me?
Thanks for any advice.


Thanks Wendy,

Great advice. My contract is between the guest and the owner and I do everything you said including the damage deposit and invoicing the owners. I am very glad that you have confirmed my processes and contract are correct. I will have a look at the Novelia insurance for AE.


Just a thought - are you a registered agent immobilier? As I'm pretty sure to do the contracts and take the money you have to be one.

The way around this is for the contracts to be between the owner and the client. The money going straight into the owners bank account or paypal account (which if you want to have control off is easier as you can have their username / password and send invoices yourself and check the money has arrived)

For damages BEFORE clients arrival take a breakage deposit again into the paypal account (client does not require a paypal account to do any of this - as if you send an INVOICE from paypal they can just enter in a credit or debit card to pay it - so no excuses) - soon after departure you can check the house (best done during cleaning rather than a quick look around when client is there...) then click refund on the security deposit paypal payment and neither you nor the client gets a paypal charge.

You will of course then be required to invoice the owner for your work / commission. - or using their paypal account, pay yourself.

Novelia do an insurance for auto entrepreneurs that will protect you against lost keys etc. But not for breakages done by the clients. The guests can't sue you as the contract is in the owners name, you are just the manager.

Make sure that that contract has a clause saying the clients require their own holiday insurance. The owners need to have their home insurance mention that they are taking rentals.

Hope that helps

Thanks Elaine,

You are right about the owners, I do make sure they have the correct insurance. I am hopeful that someone has first hand experience of this.

I don’t have foolproof advice for you but some observations.
This happened to people I know nearby, they own the property and rented it to a woman with 8 kids. They completely trashed the place, taking all her income for that season to repair, and lost lets after the woman left.
It happens, happens to every business at some point. You are right to be concerned about how you are protected.
Firstly, the owners must have house insurance, and cover for letting out also. You need your own cover, separate from that. You need professional advice on this as you see it’s a serious situation when things go wrong.
Hopefully someone here can direct you. Be aware but don’t be afraid, as you could portray that onto potential great guests :slight_smile:
Best of luck in your endeavours Remi