This rental is uninhabitable! I want my Marriott Bonvoy points back

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By Christopher Elliott

When Chris Skaggs checks into his vacation rental, he finds it uninhabitable. But can he get a refund of his Marriott Bonvoy points, which he used to make the reservation?

Question

I recently rented a condo in Florida through Homes & Villas by Ma rriott. I used my Marriott Bonvoy points to make the reservation. 

When I arrived, I discovered the unit was uninhabitable. The condo smelled of mold and mildew, and the furniture was threadbare and filthy. I had difficulty breathing. 

I left shortly after arriving and had to go to a hotel for the night. I tried to contact the vacation rental company numerous times, both before I left and after I checked out. I also asked Marriott for help but I never heard back from the vacation rental company.

I would like my points refunded. But Marriott is deferring to another company that manages its vacation rentals and will not give me my points. Can you help? — Chris Skaggs, Canton, Mich.

Answer

Marriott’s vacation rental site promises its homes are “professionally cleaned and inspected,” but it looks like they missed a few spots in your condo. You shouldn’t have to stay in a place like that.

Your rights to a refund aren’t governed by Marriott’s terms of service but by the rental agreement you signed with that third party. Under most rental contracts, you can get a refund if there’s a problem with the health or safety of the unit. Mold and construction definitely qualify, but you need to work that out with the rental company.

You gave the rental company and Homes & Villas by Marriott a chance to resolve this, but it looks like it didn’t. I think Marriott was correct to refer you back to the rental company — except when it comes to the refund. Only Marriott can return your Bonvoy points. (Related: Oh no, my hotel rewards have been downgraded!)

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I reviewed your paper trail. You didn’t mention your rental contract in your discussions with Marriott or the vacation rental agency. You did, however, show it photos of the threadbare furniture. (Related: They canceled my flight. Can I get a refund for my Marriott Vacation Club Points?)

When you find yourself in a situation like this — and I hope you never do again — you have to document everything. Keep your contracts and emails, and take lots of photos — not just of the threadbare furniture, but of any mold or dangerous conditions that would prove your rental is uninhabitable. (Related: I lost 80,000 Marriott Bonvoy points. Can you get them back?)

Can he get his Marriott Bonvoy points back?

Ultimately, I think Marriott bears some of the responsibility for this rental. After all, it put its name on your rental and allowed you to use your points. The least it could do is give you a straight answer before referring you back to the rental company. I list the names, numbers and emails of Marriott’s executives on my consumer advocacy site called Elliott.org. I think a brief, polite email might have helped resolve this.

I contacted Marriott on your behalf. It refunded your points without offering any further explanation.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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