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TexLaw, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 4430
Experience:  Lead trial/International commercial attorney licensed 11 yrs
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Have a tenant that never checked in, they are now causing our

Customer Question

Have a tenant that never checked in, they are now causing our paypal to be negative and in dispute. They are claiming to be due their money back because of a county ordinance not enforced. It is a thirty day rule, that is about to change. He was told there were no cancellations. He cancelled after trying to check in on the wrong day. He has made numerous misrepresentations about us lying where the property is. It is all in his paypal. He had it three days before he paid. We can't afford as a home to have last minute cancellations. In reality, this guy finally got his timeshare for what he wanted. Can he really go based on the ordinance that is not enforced? Plus, can he say we didn't provide services when the house was ready for him.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  TexLaw replied 5 years ago.
I'd be happy to help you with your question. I need some information from you before continuing though.

1. Is there a written statement of your cancellation policy that was provided to the tenant?

2. Can you be more specific about the ordinance he is citing? Why do you maintain that it is not enforced? Also, you say it is about to change, what do you mean?

3. Did you ask him to pay a cancellation fee or other kind of penalty through paypal, or keep a deposit?

I look forward to hearing back from you.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No written policy of cancellation. Rent is taken as one lump sum, I never have had to take deposits. I told him there was a no cancellation policy. The ordinance is for short term rentals, because of the economy it hasn't been enforced. The home is going to be annexed to another city. That doesn't have to follow that ordinance. Because of the way that the town is set up.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 5 years ago.
Ok, so if I'm to understand you correctly, this person (let's call him X), made a reservation to stay in your guest house. He provided a credit card through paypal to hold the reservation. You verbally informed him that there was a no cancellation policy. There is a town ordinance which requires return of funds for cancelled short term rentals which contradicts your no cancellation policy. X cancelled and you charged his credit card through a paypal account. Then X posted negative comments about you on paypal and based it on the argument that he is due back his payment based on the ordinance. You state that the ordinance is not enforced, and is about to not apply to your guest house anyway.

Your question concerns whether he is in the right for placing comments on paypal and whether you have any options.

Because the cancellation policy violates the town ordinance, X has a rightful claim for return of the money. You will not be able to force him to take down his comment on paypal where there is a law on the books which supports his claim, regardless of whether or not it is enforced or whether or not it will sometime in the future possibly not apply to your house. If the statement on paypal was factually untrue and was not a fair opinion comment, then it would constitute defamation that could be taken down. But based on what you have told me, that does not appear to be the case here.

Please let me know if you need clarification, or have other questions.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
He paid in full. The claim he made was violates homeowners association, which it doesn't. He stated that he wouldn't be able to use the clubhouse, which he is allowed. He just was given his timeshare.
Expert:  TexLaw replied 5 years ago.

Your last response is puzzling. Previously you said that he claimed X violated the town/county ordinance. Now you are saying that he is claiming you violated the homeowners association?

Let me put it this way, if someone is saying something factually untrue about you on line, then you have a claim against them and potentially against the online forum for defamation.

In Arizona, the elements of a defamation claim are:

1. a false statement concerning the plaintiff;
2. the statement was defamatory;
3. the statement was published to a third party;
4. the requisite fault on the part of the defendant; and
5. the plaintiff was damaged as a result of the statement.
Morris v. Warner, 160 Ariz. 55, 62 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1988).

To be “defamatory,” a statement must be false and bring the defamed person into disrepute, contempt, or ridicule, or impeach her honesty, integrity, virtue, or reputation. Godbehere v. Phoenix Newspapers, Inc., 162 Ariz. 335, 341 (Ariz. 1989).

In your case, if Mr. X is making a statement on Paypal that you did not provide service that you actually did provide, then Mr. X is technically defaming you. You can sue him and Paypal for publishing the defamatory statement. You have to be able to demonstrate that his statements are causing you a loss in renters.

This is the legal mechanism that can force paypal to take down the comment. The first step, of course, is a legal demand letter. You need to send the letter to both paypal and to Mr. X telling them that they need to immediately take down the post or you will sue for defamation. If they do not take it down, then you file suit.

The other way of doing things is to post a defensive statement on paypal and then have other renters post positive statements about you on paypal...that way Mr. X's negative comment would be overshadowed by the positive comments.

Please let me know if you need further clarification.

Best Regards,
Zachary D. Norris
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