Cancelling reserved rooms - legal aspects:
Contracting parties are often unaware of the contractual rights and obligations arising from accommodation contracts. Like any other contract, an accommodation contract must be fulfilled by both parties in accordance with civil law, i.e. it cannot be cancelled by one of the contracting parties. Booking a room offered for rent is just as binding as, e.g. buying a car, unless the landlord is in agreement with rescinding the contract. It does not matter whether the contract was agreed in writing or verbally. The guest is only freed from his contractual obligations if the landlord manages to find another tenant. The German Hotel and Restaurant Association (DEHOGA) has formulated the following statement:
Travel cancellation costs
- The contract between guest and hotel is considered concluded as soon as the room has been reserved and the reservation confirmed, or – in the event that there is no time for confirmation – as soon as the room has been reserved.
- The contract when concluded obliges both partners to fulfil all conditions of the contract, regardless of the length of time for which the contract has been concluded.
- The hotelier, in case the room is not available, is to make good the damages to the guest.
- a) The guest is obliged, in case of non-occupancy of the room or non-use of other contract benefits, to pay the agreed price for such, or the normal hotel price, minus any savings of expenses made by the hotelier.
b) The following savings apply to unoccupied reserved accommodation: overnight stay with breakfast 20% of the regular price, overnight stay with half board 30% of the regular price, overnight stay with full board 40% of the regular price. Landlords of holiday apartments may charge at least 80% of the agreed price in the case of non-occupancy by the guest, as their saved expenses generally comprise less than 20% of the agreed price.
- a) The landlord is obliged to act in good faith and not allocate the reserved room to other tenants in order to avoid cancellations.
b) Until the room is otherwise filled, the guest is obliged to pay the amount calculated in accordance with section 4. b) for the duration of the contract.
- Should it be possible for the hotelier to reallocate the unused accommodation, the guest is no longer obliged to pay the amount charged to the other guest for this period.
- The exclusive place of jurisdiction is the place of business.
To avoid the inconveniences in section 4, the client is advised take out a good travel package or travel insurance from a European travel insurer to cover the costs incurred when cancelling travel. Please note the accompanying European travel insurance offer. Upon request this can be included with the reservation confirmation from your hotel or obtained directly from us. Notes on the accommodation contract
The accommodation contract is a not particularly strict, so-called mixed contract governed by the German Civil Code, apart from the regulation on liability for property brought into the hotel. It spans rental, service, employment and even purchase law. The inclusion of various legal fields does not, however, entail that the accommodation contract is to be treated differently from any other contract under civil law.
This means that the accommodation contract cannot be terminated by one party. Booking a room offered in a hotel or other accommodation is just as binding, unless the landlord is in agreement with cancelling the contract. It is irrelevant whether the contract was concluded in writing or verbally. In line with this principle, the point at which the guest wishes to cancel a reservation is unimportant, as since the contract cannot be terminated by one party, the point of cancellation has no impact. The only deciding factor for the landlord's claims is whether he can rent the room to another guest. The guest is only freed from the contractual obligations if the landlord manages to find another tenant.
The landlord may not, of course, wilfully desist from renting to another guest, i.e. he must make every effort to fill the room. On the other hand, the guest must on no account fail to inform the landlord, as this then deprives him of the opportunity of being freed from his contractual obligations. Therefore cancelling a contract as soon as possible can play a decisive role. The landlord's claim to payment of the agreed or normal hotel price for the contractual services minus the expenses saved is not a claim for compensation but a claim as part of fulfilling the contract. This differentiation is of legal significance for the guest should he wish to lodge a complaint. In the case of claims for fulfilment of the contract, the reasons the guest could not occupy the room are irrelevant under the law.
(Source: German Hotel and Restaurant Association e.V. (DEHOGA); Bonn)