When is there a case for Force Majure?During the practice of renting and renting out motorhomes and caravans, there is sometimes the question of what force majeure is. In this article we will discuss reasons why the owner can cancel and whether or not this is force majeure. If an owner cancels without force majeure, the consequence is that cancellation costs apply and that the hirer in question - if it is not possible to find a comparable motorhome for the same money - can be compensated for additional costs up to $400 AUD per booking. In the case of force majeure, the owner cannot be blamed and it is not logical that he should compensate the hirer. At the very bottom of the article we will briefly focus on reasons for cancellation by the hirer.
Force majeure is a legal term that indicates a non-attributable impossibility to perform an obligation, releasing the person in question from that obligation. The Civil Code defines force majeure as follows: "A shortcoming cannot be attributed to the debtor if it is not due to his fault, nor is it for his account by law, legal act or generally accepted beliefs." The last part in particular is a topic that has led to much discussion in all corners of the judiciary. A commonly held view means as much as a general view that prevails within society, something that is regarded as the standard for responsible behaviour.
In order to make this clear for you, we at Camptoo provide guidance to what a hirer can expect from an owner. If you as an owner do not meet this requirement, you cannot invoke force majeure.
Natural disasters and extreme weather
If a rental period cannot start because a natural disaster or extreme weather led to an advice to not use the road (the so-called code red), the owner and hirer must find a reasonable solution for this, for example a different destination, route or travel dates. We apply the following: a cancellation can take place if it is expected that at least 20% of the intended travel period cannot be realised. If less than 20% of the intended travel period is missing, the total rental price will be recalculated based on the number of days that can be realised; neither the hirer nor the owner is entitled to further compensation other than the aforementioned recalculation.
If a rental period cannot commence because the government of the country in which the motorhome / caravan is located has given negative travel advice for a travel destination of the hirer, the owner and hirer must find a reasonable solution for this, e.g. agree on another destination or travel dates. We see code red as negative travel advice, but also code orange (no necessary travelling). This situation does not require the owner to cancel, as the motorhome / caravan is available but cannot be used at that time. Since these situations are usually very temporary in nature, changing the travel dates or adjusting the travel plans is the most logical response. If you, as a hirer, do not see any possibility for this and want to cancel, we advise you to claim any cancellation costs with your travel insurance provider.
Every vehicle on the platform must be in a good state of repair at any time it is published. Camptoo understands below that:
- Periodic major and minor maintenance is carried out according to the recommendations of the manufacturer.
- Recommendations for replacement are carried out proactively (example: an owner receives advice at the MOT to replace the brake discs, but decides to wait another season. On the day of the rental issue, the braking distance has become so great that the hirer perceives this as unsafe and refuses to commence the rental request. The cancellation costs will be for the owner as he had been advised by the MOT to replace it.)
- Checks are carried out annually by the owner or the garage for rust on the chassis and engine housing
- Before each rental period, wear and tear and functioning of the facilities are checked
- Cleaning is carried out regularly
In case of doubt, the owner may be asked to provide evidence. Breakdown due to failure of wear-sensitive parts such as tires, gearbox, battery or alternator is explicitly not a case of force majeure.
Accidents and repairs
If a motorhome / caravan is not in a rentable condition after an accident, a possible hirer may expect the lessor for a follow-up period to do everything in his / her power to have the motorhome / caravan repaired in time. It can also be expected that the owner can keep a close eye on the planned repair work and will not accept new bookings because of the planned repair work. If a motorhome cannot be repaired (completely broken) or cannot be repaired on time, this can be considered force majeure. A condition for this is that the owner can prove / make it plausible that he / she has done everything in his / her power to have the vehicle repaired in time and provide and retain evidence to this effect from the breakdown service, which will be held as final in a dispute
Sale of the vehicle
If an owner sells a motorhome / caravan while there are confirmed bookings in the future, this is a conscious choice and not force majeure. Sales in connection with a deteriorated financial situation are also seen as such.
Tip: if the confirmed bookings are also taken over by the new owner, everyone is happy and there are no costs.
If an owner is unable to hand out or take in the camper due to personal circumstances, the hirer may expect the owner to ask someone else to hand out and take in the camper, including a good explanation of the motorhome / caravan .
In the event of the death or serious illness of (immediate family of) the owner, this can be a reason to change the date of issue. If this is really not possible, you can also cancel free of charge. Death of the owner of the motorhome is in all cases a reason to cancel free of charge.
The hirer may expect the owner to allow this time for unexpected delays, such as delays in traffic or when picking up the camping equipment from the garage. Camptoo strongly recommends not taking bookings on the day that a previous rental period ends, but only the day after at the earliest, so that there is enough time to prepare the motorhome / caravan properly. If a lessor nevertheless accepts a rental period for the same day, it is under no circumstances force majeure if the previous hirer returns too late, the vehicle cannot be cleaned on time or otherwise cannot be released on time.
A special point of attention is the first rental period after a period of inactivity: a hirer can expect from an owner that the owner checks the motorhome / caravan at least 3 days in advance and takes a test drive, so that, for example, when a battery needs to be replaced, there is time to order and install it. Special points of attention also apply to older motorhomes and caravans: it is reasonable to assume that something will need to be repaired more often or that replacement of a part takes longer, and a lessor should take this into account.
Vice versa, there are of course also cases that are clearly force majeure, for example if a motorhome / caravan cannot be issued because the previous hirers were delayed a few days on the way back due to bad luck.
Invocation of force majeure by the hirer
The situation is somewhat simpler for hirers: after all, the hirer does not have a vehicle that can break down and only needs to be able to travel. In the case of renting a caravan, the towing vehicle is not booked via the Camptoo platform and it is therefore the responsibility of the renter to arrange a replacement vehicle if this vehicle breaks down, for example from the insurance or breakdown cover of the towing vehicle. In addition, not being able to travel due to personal circumstances can be properly insured for a hirer; that is why we recommend that you take out cancellation insurance.