Outer Banks rental company sued over virus-related refunds

COVID-19: 52 cases of coronavirus in the commonwealth
COVID-19: 52 cases of coronavirus in the commonwealth

AVON, N.C. – A class-action lawsuit has been filed against a real estate company on North Carolina's Outer Banks after it allegedly refused to issue refunds for people who couldn't visit because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions.

The Virginian-Pilot reported Wednesday that the suit was filed against Surf or Sound Realty.

The company initially promised refunds to people who couldn't reach beach homes because Dare County closed its borders. But the Avon-based company then changed course, refusing to offer refunds but giving customers the chance to change vacation dates.

Attorney Gary Jackson filed the suit on Tuesday in Dare County.

The North Carolina Real Estate Commission had ruled that renters who could not reach their beach houses because of county restrictions were due a refund. And most companies are complying, said Jimmy Anderson, president of the Outer Banks Association of Realtors.

But Dale Petty, Surf or Sound Realty's CEO, disagrees with the commission's decision, according to a letter to a homeowner that was later posted on Facebook.

Petty said that many homeowners have lost jobs and are struggling financially. He said that the county's closure and the real estate commission's refund ruling "amounted to a weapon of mass destruction for vacation rental companies."

The Pilot’s phone calls to the company’s attorney, Lloyd Smith of Windsor, were not immediately returned.