If you need to cancel a reservation,the first step will be to check the relevant contract terms with regards to cancellation. Whether any refund is payable will be dependent upon a number of factors and will vary on a case by case basis. Such factors may include: when the booking was made; when the booking was cancelled; and whether any payment has been made yet by the customer.
In particular, the clauses in relation to breach of contract and Force Majeure events are likely to be relevant (please see FAQs below in relation to Force Majeure clauses and breach of contract claims).
If a booking is cancelled and the contract does not expressly providefor the ability to do this, then it is likely that in the absence of any force majeure or other such clausecovering the situation, the contract is deemed to be breached. The result of this would be thatthe customer is likely to have a remedy. A refund is usually the most appropriate option in these circumstances. However, again it is important to carefully check the contract and to consider whether there are any appropriate limitation provisions. A
well- drafted contract or set of terms and conditions should contain details of any caps or limits that will apply to claims under the contract.
The property owner may consider alternatives such as offering a voucher or rescheduling a booking, which may be a more convenient option for both parties. However, there may be circumstances where it would be impractical for a consumer to accept this and unless the contract deals with this point, they are entitled to request a refund. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 sets out rules relating to the supply of services to customers, and it is more than likely to be considered unreasonable to expect a consumer to pay for a service which they have not received.
As a last resort, the consumer can try to contact their insurer if they have a policy in place.
For further advice, please contact Consumerline: https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/contacts/contactsaz/consumerline.