5 On Your Side

Attorney general demands beach rental firm turn over records

Posted June 23, 2020 3:57 p.m. EDT
Updated June 23, 2020 6:04 p.m. EDT

— WRAL News has learned the NC Attorney General's office has received requested information from Surf or Sound Realty and is now looking through all of the documents.

Surf or Sound Realty promised refunds for vacations canceled because of COVID-travel restrictions, then told renters they'd only be able to swap to a different week.

5 On Your Side's Monica Laliberte has been looking into the company since March.

NC coastline

The Attorney General's office sent a five-page Investigative Demand letter to Surf or Sound.

It specifies a long list of documents and records relating to those unpaid refunds.

Included in the renters 5 On Your Side has heard from: Lisa Wollett, who paid $4,511; Sally McNamee, who paid $2,857; and Heide Doyle, who paid $3,047.

They are among nearly 900 members of the Facebook Group called "Surf or Sound Realty owes us a refund."

The company, instead, is offering credit toward another stay.

NC Attorney General Josh Stein is looking into the complaints.

"What I want to see is for Surf or Sound Realty to refund people the money because the people could not honor the contract and that's the only right thing for them to do," said Stein.

Among the 16 categories of documents he demanded from the realty company:

All vacation rental agreements made between March 17 and May 15, 2020, when Dare County banned visitors because of COVID-19.

All accounting records and documents reflecting the payment of refunds, as well as records that identify property owners.

And since Jan. 1, the AG requested all internal and external communications involving vacation rental agreements and refunds, changes in policies or practices and travel insurance claims, coverage and contracts.

They also asked for instructions to employees for handling payments and all documents related to Surf or Sound's assets, liabilities and bank accounts.

Surf or Sound CEO Dale Petty declined WRAL's interview request.

In an email to 5 On Your Side, he said the company "sought to find a reasonable option that would serve the interests of both homeowners and guests" adding they "are committed to finding a resolution for each and every individual."

The renters 5 On Your Side has heard from simply want their money back.

More to come as the attorney general reviews the documents received.

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