We rented an adorable cottage in North Beach MD. Established a report w/landlord before arriving.
Met landlord at property with my three daughters and four granddaughters. Immediately overwhelmed with smell of mold & mildew. Landlord provided keys and left. Immediately upon her leaving, one granddaughter (who was going to stay in cottage with us) complained her throat was closing up (she's highly allergic); another granddaughter began to have an asthma attack.
My throat started bothering me. The house had supposedly just been rented by a couple with a baby for two weeks before we arrived, but landlord said they only stayed one week, therefore, smell was not due to being "closed up". Opened all windows, turned on all fans, turned on all air conditioners (two of which had visible mold inside vents). One daughter complained of visible black mold in bathroom above tub/shower, which had such a low ceiling that no adult could use it unless under 5 foot.
Left the house and would return in a few hours to see if there was a difference. Daughter and granddaughter could not stay there, and I could not stay there if the mold and mildew smell continued--my immune system is depressed due to recent cancer treatments. Found a hotel room for my daughter and granddaughter to stay in. Returned to cottage 4 hours later.
Smell was still overwhelming. Closed up house, removed my luggage and left... Tried contacting landlord next morning..no answer (Saturday). She returned my call Sunday and asked how it was going with our stay.
Kindly explained everything to her and she was "appalled" - indicating that she was concerned and sorry. However, she wasn't. She asked if I would accept 1/2 the rent in return for a good review. I told her I could not lie and would not place others in an unhealthy situation.
I asked to meet her and return the key. She told me to keep it until the end of the lease and she would meet me on Friday (end of leas). I tried calling her on Monday--no answer--left a message. Landlord had said TV was broken and new one was being installed on Monday, went to cottage and she was there and not pleased to see me.
I told her I wanted to return the key to the cottage, I did not want the responsibility of it nor the liability. She took the key. I asked if she was going to refund our money--she said she would call me Friday. I have tried to reach her through email, phone and Homeaway email.
After 3 weeks, I contacted HomeAway. HomeAway first chastised me for waiting so long to contact them--even though its website said you are supposed to try to work things out with the landlord first. After three phone calls, promises of handling the issue in 24 to 48 hours, two case numbers, one customer service rep which didn't even note my case, and three disconnects of phone calls--Homeaway claims that since I did not contact them "immediately" that they are not "obligated" to address the issue nor the landlord. I asked for a supervisor and was transferred to "the management team"--on hold again for 20 minutes and then disconnected.
I asked for an address in order to send legal documents--it was not provided. This is a real scam benefitting unscrupulous landlords and Homeway. Most of the properties have a "no refund" policy, as did this one. I took out the insurance in case of a health emergency, however, the insurance company does not cover this issue with the landlord nor "uninhabitability"--that is supposed to be covered by HomeAway's Satisfaction Guarantee.
Renter/Tenant/Vacationer BEWARE... Homeaway does not even deserve "one star", but I'm providing it so I can forewarn others--especially about the toxic cottage located between 2nd and 3rd streets in North Beach MD across from the Boardwalk...
if you are sensitive to mold and mildew... do not rent.
Reason of review: Refusal to assist in contacting landlord to return my money because my family and I couldn't stay in a TOXIC COTTAGE. Case numbers #21836115 & 21985433.
Monetary Loss: $1600.