After losing out on vacations due to coronavirus-related bridge closures, being denied refunds by Surf or Sound Realty and then launching a class-action lawsuit to recoup their losses, a group of thwarted Outer Banks renters got a big win Thursday.
In a statement send to OBXToday.com, Surf or Sound Realty said those who rented vacation homes through the company will receive refunds after all.
“At Surf or Sound Realty, the interests of both homeowners and guests are top priority. Over the past few months, we have been working tirelessly to find appropriate solutions that would serve the interests of our clients—those homeowners who count on rental income for their properties, and our guests—those who help support the Hatteras Island community by visiting year after year.
During this unprecedented time, it’s been challenging to create fair compromises for all involved. And, our intent has always been to find an acceptable resolution for each and every individual,” the statement reads.
“Today we have begun the refund process for guests affected by the Dare County road closure who did not transfer their reservations to later this year or to 2021. We have been in contact with these guests and are working to provide refunds as quickly as possible. In fact, they should be receiving their refunds within a week of us receiving their signed agreements.
We understand this has been a frustrating situation for all and we apologize for our part in it. As we have since 1978, we remain committed to serving our guests, our community, and our homeowners with integrity for years to come.”
Earlier this month, attorneys filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of those vacation-home renters who planned trips to the Outer Banks in March, April and May, but couldn’t come due to coronavirus restrictions imposed in Dare County.
- Related story: Class action lawsuit filed over vacation renters denied refunds from Surf or Sound Realty
In a statement, the Law Office of James Scott Farrin in Greenville said Surf or Sound Realty originally told vacation customers they would receive either a full refund or the choice of an alternate week for the same price as their deposits and payments. Vacationers were shut out of the Outer Banks from March 17 to May 16 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In May, the realty company reversed the refund decision and told would-be vacationers they wouldn’t be getting their money back after all. The company offered alternative weeks instead. The decision was based on an attorney’s opinion that Dare County should be responsible for money lost to owners and vacationers during the coronavirus shut down.
- Related story: Couple files class-action lawsuit seeking damages for Outer Banks’ non-resident property owners
Dozens of Surf or Sound renters have also filed complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office and the North Carolina Real Estate Commission, which issued an opinion earlier this year that vacation property owners are legally bound to return funds for lessees who couldn’t access vacation homes.