There is no specific legislation on individual accommodation services, such as the booking of a hotel room or a holiday cabin, but they fall within the scope of consumer protection and consumer law principles.
Accommodation in a hotel or cabin can be booked directly with an accommodation provider or online through an online booking service. When booking accommodation through an online service, please review the terms and conditions of the reservation as well as the associated practices with special care. Pay particular attention to with whom you are concluding the accommodation agreement and who you should contact if problems occur.
Exercise overall caution and check that the dates and other information are correct when making the reservation and also after receiving the booking confirmation. If you notice any errors in your reservation, contact the accommodation provider or the online booking service immediately.
The online booking service is responsible for the functioning of the system. The online service does not usually provide the actual accommodation, but it is responsible for exercising due care when acting as the intermediary in the booking transaction.
How to rent accommodation safely
The parties providing accommodation services are usually reliable, but you can reduce potential risks by exercising caution and checking the background of the accommodation provider in advance.
- Do not rush when you are making a reservation. Be careful with accommodation providers who demand you to make a quick decision and pay for your reservation right away.
- Check how openly the accommodation providers share information about themselves and their rental destinations in, for example, their advertisements or on their website. If the available information is incomplete and the accommodation provider does not provide you with complementary details despite your requests, consider carefully whether it is advisable to rent that particular destination.
- Check that the cabin and the company actually exist. The existence of a company can be verified, for example, from the Business Information System. The existence of a cabin can be checked by using online map services, for example. You can also use online search engines to check the source of the images displayed.
- You can review other customers’ experiences of the destination or the accommodation provider. However, it is advisable to adopt a sufficiently critical attitude toward the customer reviews found online.
- If possible, use a credit card to pay for your reservation. In the event of problems, you can also claim a refund from the credit card company.
Can I cancel my reservation?
The statutory right of cancellation does not apply to accommodation services. The 14-day right to cancel that is applied to other online purchases does not apply to hotel or cabin accommodation booked for a certain time.
In normal circumstances, you can only cancel a booking you have made yourself if this is permitted in the booking and cancellation terms.
Many accommodation service providers offer consumers the possibility of cancelling or postponing the reservation. However, even if the company usually offers the possibility of cancellation, the right to cancel may not apply to special-priced offers. The terms and conditions of cancelling a reservation may also vary with regard to issues such as deadlines, so it is always advisable to read the terms carefully.
In some exceptional circumstances, applying the standard cancellation terms may lead to an unreasonable situation for you. This may be the case if, for example, you are prevented from using the accommodation at all due to an exceptional situation (such as an unexpected illness or restrictions imposed by the authorities). Whether or not the application of the terms leads to an unreasonable situation must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. You can prepare yourself for unexpected situations by, for example, checking that you have adequate insurance coverage.
What if there are shortcomings in the accommodation?
This way, the problems can be rectified at once. An oral complaint is often sufficient, but if action to rectify the situation is not taken right away, you should also submit a complaint by e-mail, for example. You can use the written complaint to demonstrate afterwards that you have reported problems and given the accommodation provider an opportunity to rectify the situation.
The company should remedy any shortcomings as quickly as possible. Especially in the event of major deficiencies, switching to another similar room or cabin can be a viable form of compensation.
If the accommodation provider does not remedy the deficiencies or if the deficiency in question cannot be remedied, the accommodation provider can offer a price reduction corresponding to the error as compensation. If the deficiency is significant, it may be possible to terminate the contract. In certain situations, you can also claim compensation for damages from the accommodation provider. However, you cannot receive compensation for emotional distress and inconvenience.
Please note that consumer protection only applies to contracts between a consumer and a sole trader. For example, if the cabin is rented by a private person, the consumer authorities cannot help you in the event of disputes. A natural person who continuously rents out a holiday cabin is not considered a trader.
If the accommodation provider is located in another EU country, Norway or Iceland, you can contact the European Consumer Centre.