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Palm Beach Reverses Decision, Some of Hawaii is Back, Rental Fraud!, Refund Battles in OBX

Happy Friday Everyone!

Florida still can’t make up its mind… Palm Beach County pauses vacation rentals reopening due to growing coronavirus cases. With a safety plan in place and the state’s approval, Palm Beach County had set the stage to let vacation rental owners welcome tourists and staycationers into their dwellings once again. But concerns about a coronavirus resurgence stopped that from going into effect Monday. “It was our hope to begin the opening on June 15th; however, data over the past few days has shown some increases in hospitalization, some increases in percentage of new COVID-19 cases over the past weeks and a bump in influenza-like illnesses in our emergency rooms,” read a statement on the county’s website. Sigh.

On Tuesday, short-term vacation rentals are allowed to resume most operations on Maui, the Big Island and Kaua'i. Owners are not allowed to rent to anyone who is undergoing quarantine. Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell has yet to submit a request to Governor David Ige to allow legal short-term vacation rentals to operate on O'ahu.

If you’re a traveler, watch out for rental fraud! Investigations are ongoing in at least three cases of rental fraud that have occurred in the last month in Holmes Beach, Florida.  Visitors arrived only to find out that they really didn’t have a booking at the property they thought they’d reserved. Now Holmes Beach police officers are warning rental owners to be on the lookout for any fraudulent advertisements for their properties, and are warning visitors to be careful how they book their next vacation.

There’s an interesting case going on in the Outer Banks.  A large PM is under scrutiny after reneging on an alleged promise to refund money.  Dozens of guests reported the PM and now North Caroline state is investigating.

What’s particularly interesting is that the NC Real Estate Commission evidently mandates certain refund policies.  Notice this line:

"If you have a contract that cannot be performed, it's not a contract, and you're due your money back," Stein [NC Attorney General] said. "We are in the process of digging into this and investigating it, and if what we find out leads us to conclude that these people are in the legal wrong and they need to pay these people back we will do whatever necessary to get these customers their money back."

What if the signed contract stated that no refunds are given for cancellations or ‘acts of god’, and the guest knew and signed to that?  Does that matter?  Shouldn’t the contract hold up?

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