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How to Sue VRBO

Camila Lopez - Suing a Business - March 13, 2024

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    Do you have a dispute with VRBO over a refund, rental, or overcharges? You have several options, including suing VRBO in small claims court.

    In this article, learn about:

    • Common types of small claims lawsuits against VRBO.

    • What to do before suing VRBO in small claims court.

    • How much does it cost to sue VRBO in small claims?

    • How much can you sue VRBO for in small claims?

    • How to file a small claims lawsuit against VRBO.

    • Fun fact, lawyers are not allowed at the initial small claims hearing! This is to even the playing field so that each party has an equal chance of obtaining justice.

    Common types of small claims lawsuits against VRBO

    We often receive the question, can I sue VRBO in small claims? The answer is yes as long as the dispute is for $12,500 or less (more on this below). You may also want to consider suing the VRBO host you rented the unit from or if you rented your home, you should consider also suing the VRBO guests.

    Here are some examples of small claims lawsuits against VRBO, VRBO hosts, and VRBO guests:

    • Damages to your home. For example, you listed your home on VRBO but the VRBO guests threw a party in your home and damaged the countertops.

    • Failure to refund you. For example, VRBO promised you a refund but you still have not received it.

    • Unexpected charges. For example, a week before trip you received an email that there would be an unexpected fee that you have to pay otherwise the reservation will get cancelled.

    • You reserved and paid for a unit but it was booked to someone else. For example, you arrive to your VRBO cabin and find that someone else is already staying in it when you already paid to rent it out for the week!

    What to do before suing VRBO in small claims court

    Contact VRBO's Customer Service

    Call VRBO's customer service phone number 1-877-228-3145 and have them troubleshoot your problem.

    Contact VRBO on Twitter

    Many companies respond to Twitter complaints extremely fast. Here is VRBO's Twitter handle: @vrbo

    Consider filing a complaint with the BBB against VRBO

    The Better Business Bureau may be able to help you with your complaint against VRBO. Here is how you can file a BBB complaint against VRBO.

    Make sure to also review complaints other customers have filed against VRBO with the BBB (review VRBO's BBB complaints here). This will help you learn whether VRBO responds to BBB complaints.

    Send a Demand Letter

    A demand letter is a letter that outlines a set of requests. For example, you could request a refund and explain why you are requesting a refund.  

    If you eventually decide to sue in California small claims court, you are required to first request your money or property back before you can file the lawsuit. While you can request your money or property back orally, it is recommended you do so in writing in the form of a demand letter.

    What to include in the demand letter?

    Unsure of what to include in your demand letter to VRBO:

    • How much money you are owed.

    • Why you are owed money.

    • Your contact information.

    • Where to send payment.

    • Give them a few days to respond (usually about 7 to 14 days).

    • State that if they don't respond, you intend to sue.

    If VRBO ignores your demand letter, what is the next step? You may be able to sue VRBO in a small claims court. Make sure to review any contracts you have received from VRBO. Here are VRBO's terms of service.

    How much does it cost to sue VRBO in small claims?

    So how much are you going to spend by suing VRBO in small claims court?

    Court Filing Fees

    The amount you will pay to file a small claims lawsuit in California depends on how much you are suing VRBO for. You will pay between $30 to $75 to file the lawsuit. If you cannot afford to pay court fees, you can ask the court to waive the fees.  

    Serving Costs

    Once the lawsuit is filed, you have to notify VRBO that you have sued them. This is called "serving." Serving Costs can range from $0-$75.

    More on who to serve on behalf of VRBO below. If you win, you can request that VRBO pay for your court fees and serving costs.

    How much can you sue VRBO for in small claims?

    In California, you can sue VRBO for a maximum of $12,500 if you are an individual. If you are a business suing VRBO, you can sue for a maximum of $6,250. Note, if you are a sole proprietor, you count as an individual.

    By suing in small claims you are agreeing to waive any amount over the maximum amount you can sue for, even if you are owed more. For example, if VRBO owes you $14,000, and you decide to sue in small claims, you are waiving suing for an additional $1,500. Meaning that you will win a maximum of $12,500.

    While you may be missing out on the full amount you are owed, there are practical benefits to suing in small claims instead of suing in "regular court."

    Here are some of the benefits:

    1. Court filing fees are cheaper in small claims than in other courts.

    2. The process is faster in small claims than in other courts as your hearing will usually be scheduled 30-70 days after you file the lawsuit.

    3. Lawyers are generally not allowed in small claims which helps keep the costs of suing low.  

    How to file a small claims lawsuit against VRBO

    Step 1: Complete "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court" (Form SC-100)

    Step 2: File "Plaintiff's Claim and Order to Go to Small Claims Court"

    Each California Small Claims Court has a different procedure for filing. You have to check with your local small claims court whether they allow filing in-person, by mail, online, or by fax. Or we can file your case for you!

    Step 3: Serve the lawsuit on VRBO's agent

    Remember, you will be serving VRBO's "agent for service of process" as listed on the California Secretary of State's website. Learn more here.

    What is a small claims court hearing like?

    Small claims hearings in California small claims are informal and most hearings last around 15 minutes. While many disputes settle before the hearing, here is what to expect if your lawsuit does not settle.

    Who will represent VRBO at the hearing?

    • The easiest way to answer this question is that a lawyer will not be representing VRBO since lawyers cannot represent parties at the initial small claims hearing. They will have a non-attorney representative.

    The hearing:

    • Right before the hearing, the judge will ask you and VRBO's representative to show each other the evidence that you will later show the judge.

    • The judge will ask you why you are suing.

    • The judge will ask VRBO's representative to tell them their side of the story.

    • The hearing will last around 15 minutes.

    • The judge will ask you to show them the evidence you brought. Sometimes the judge will keep the evidence. Other times, you will get the evidence right back.

    • Very rarely a judge will tell you whether you won or lost at the hearing. Instead, the judge will tell you that their decision will be mailed to you (usually takes a few weeks to two months or so).


    Camila Lopez

    Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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