US: American property management firm TurnKey Vacation Rentals is facing a class action lawsuit due to its return policy in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The suit was filed in West Texas federal district court and is currently representing at least 50 renters.
According to lead counsel Joe Sauder, the lawsuit’s intention is to receive the cash refunds that the guests are seeking. The team wrote in the filing: “TurnKey has breached its agreements with its customers and unjustly enriched itself at their expense.”
TurnKey’s current refund policy is similar to the one offered by Vrbo, which guarantees credits returned to the guest for use at the same rental property within the next 18 months. The group’s policy is designed to ensure that the various homeowners on their platform have future business protections.
TurnKey spokesman Adam Pedowitz told The Desert Sun: “We cannot comment directly on claims addressed in court filings, but we believe strongly that our policies are balanced to protect the interests of both our homeowners and guests. We believe adopting this policy — similar to other leaders in the travel industry who have issued credits toward future bookings — helps guests retain the value of their reservation, while helping homeowners maintain the prospect of future booking.”
Some clients, however, are unhappy with the offerings made and have taken to facebook and other social media platforms to share their anger at the company. On a group entitled “Corporate Greed- Corporate Greed – TurnKey Rentals puts revenue above Coronavirus risk,” guest Manny Richter claimed that the company had refused him a refund of a rental in palm springs in spite of the homeowner approving it.
A separate group, named “TurnKey DO THE RIGHT THING!” claims a total of $500,000 in lost fees amongst its approximately 500 members.
Certain homeowners, however have been successful at granting their guests cash refunds after contacting the company to secure them. TurnKey, like many other property management platforms, holds onto the money rather than transmitting it directly to the host.
Many in the industry are confused due to the fragmented response of various market leaders. Airbnb’s response of full customers refunds received criticism from hosts, many of whom have reported not receiving cash from Airbnb’s Host Support fund.
TurnKey itself has implemented other coronavirus relief measures, including introducing a new cleaning policy and a programme to provide homes for frontline responders. Pedowitz added: “Our hearts go out to everyone affected by the pandemic.”