Bear with me as I am not an expert on the law, I have a a question regarding private guest-house / airBnB owners and what their rights are and what they may not be allowed to do.
Before I start, I should mention that this is more out of interest, something similar happened to me a while ago, I simply left a negative review and that was it for me. But recently a friend of mine had the same issue and my curiosity got the better of me and I wanted to learn what the law is on this.
Say you book an apartment through booking.com (or any other booking website) and pay the amount in advance (no refund possible at this point). Say you arrive late at night (outside the indicated check-in time) and the owner then asks you to pay extra for the check-in, is he/she allowed to do that? In my friend's case, there was no mentioning of a late check-in fee but you can also not refund the booking so you are sort of forced to pay the extra amount if you don't want to loose the payment you have already made for the apartment. What does the law say on this?
In my case it ended there but in my friends case the airplane got delayed and as a result my friend arrived 2 hours late at the property. In the meantime (while on the airplane), my friend received angry emails (capitalised words, every sentence marked with several exclamation mark, the whole array ...) saying because of the late arrival the late check-in fee has doubled which my friend was then forced to pay (which were equal to 2 nights rent, so it was a significant amount which was not agreed upon before and again, there was not really an option to avoid this fee (other than, again, losing the down payment and looking for a different hotel at 5 in the morning with all your luggage). Again, is the owner allowed to just arbitrary set prices and force you to pay (as the owner knows that you don't really have another option). It feels a bit like exploitation, just wondering if there is a law on that.
OK, so now to the interesting bit. I understand that booking.com (or the website you booked through) is just a facilitator of sorts, so they don't need to mediate between you and the apartment owner (and from experience it seems that's exactly their strategy), but if we look more closely at the problem, effectively you were making a booking through their website based on incomplete information. I understand that this is the owners fault of not providing this information, but is booking.com (or again your favourite website) not, at least, being sloppy with due diligence by pretty much saying "your problem, not ours, we only run this website and don't care if you have to pay extra"? I have a feeling that they are operating within the margin of the law, but that then means that you are pretty much at the mercy of the apartment owner and if he/she wants to drain your vacation funds there is nothing stopping him/her?
And one more thing, if make your booking in country A for an apartment in country B through booking.com, which law should be considered? The one from country A (where you booked from), country B (where you are going to) or maybe where the website you bought it through is registered? (possibly a third, different country)
Oh and just one last thing, thankfully it didn't happened (to neither me nor my friend), but out of curiosity and on that topic, what happens if the owner decides to withhold the deposit you paid? Again, there seems little that you can do. I guess you can take pictures of everything but in the end it will be your word against the owner, it seem pretty easy then for them to just cash in some extra money if they wanted to do so.