It’s been brewing for weeks already, but it seems the disaster in Orlando is growing by the minute.
Thousands of Jewish families have been renting homes in Orlando for this Pesach, all looking forward to a relaxing and an enjoyable Yom Tov. But for many, it turned out to be a nightmare.
According to multiple sources, more than 200 homes were “double booked”, many without the original renters knowing about it until the last minute.
It seems there were a few ways that people lost their rentals.
It began months ago, as thousands began placing deposits on homes for Pesach. Some homes were being rented for $6,000, and when brokers saw that there was a massive demand for homes, they began renting them to others – some for as much as $25,000. The problem is, some brokers never even told the original renters anything. Some brokers simply lied and said that their credit cards had been declined. This was a blatant lie, and in fact many had been charged, but the brokers had simply “refunded” the money, and taken their next customer who was paying three times the price. Other renters were told the home couldn’t be rented “due to COVID”, “burst pipe”, “roof leaks”, “air conditioning issues”, and other creative lies.
One victim told YWN they booked their home a few days after Chanukah, and found out 5 days ago that they had lost their rental. YWN is aware of two families that were cancelled on Tuesday morning, and another on Monday night.
The second – and even more disturbing scam – was that people began placing “down-payments” on many homes, showing intent to purchase them, with the condition that they can use it for Pesach. These people have no intent on buying these home, and many are cancelling their “contracts” after Pesach. Their down-payments are less then the amount they would of had to pay to rent a home for Pesach. In fact, YWN has been told that some “brokers” themselves went into contract on many homes to they could rent the homes for a profit. It appears that these “down payments” were done by brokers themselves.
The results of these scams? Hundreds of families finding out a week before Pesach that they have no where to go. One family had already shipped their food on Monday and were flying on Tuesday evening only to find out on Tuesday morning that their home had been cancelled.
YWN is told that lawyers are being hired and the authorities are already looking into this.
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I had 1575 Plunker , booked for 3/24 to 4/5 fully paid and confirmed. They then sent me that the hosts wants to come. We will see who comes since my daughter has the house next door.
I also had another house 1686 Moon Valley management vacasa and we received 2 weeks ago that it was sold. Why is the contract not enforceful for the new owners!”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “Happened to us too. We booked on vrbo for $2200 (chol hamoed and second days) and our house (and a couple of others in the neighborhood) went into contract suddenly to sell right before yom tov (March 22). You write that the value is $6000, it is much less. The price for a full yom tov brand new house is between 2k (5 bedroom)- 4K (8,9 bedroom). I’m not referring to the reunion mansions just the brand new developed houses which is what 90% of the renters take. They are re-renting these cheap houses for over 15-20k or more. Our address was 5431 Solterra Circle.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I made reservations via VRBO for my family to join with my parents and siblings and their families in Solterra. We found a house between my parents and sisters houses and paid the 50% deposit. On March 7th I got an E-mail from the owner asking if I was still interested in renting the house, I relied yes, and 1 hour later received a cancellation notice. When I asked why the house was canceled, I received no reply initially, and then was told ‘due to covid-19’. I reached out directly to VRBO and they said that there was ‘nothing they can do’, but if they see this as something this owner does repeatedly they will strip his listings off the website. They put me in touch with the homeowners association, but unfortunately the only home they could find, privately of course, was over $5000 more than what was originally contracted at, and of course VRBO, Air BNB, et al have no listings for Pesach dates. I was also told that the owner of my house owns 44 other homes in Solterra and has a history of doing this.
The owners name is Lu Jinxiu
VRBO ID 7565083ha
My family who are in Orlando will see who has ruined our Yom Tov….”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I was double booked. First house we booked via AIRBNB around Chanukah and after 2 weeks the host said sorry, the house isn’t available and gave it to someone’s else. The second house was through VRBO. The house never existed and were given a fake address! The host never responded and we thankfully got our money back via CC dispute. Our 3rd house we booked and about a month later someone else booked the same house via another listing on the same platform! We are hoping when we get there no one else will be in the house. This is just crazy!!!”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I booked my home on Airbnb (312 Southfield. Encore), and I found out that someone else has the same booking! They canceled them (they booked back in august), and next they they canceled me. And two days ago I saw the same exact listing on Airbnb for double the price!”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I booked a house on Airbnb. When I heard about the double booking, I told my cousin who was there already to check and to make sure the house empty. When he got to the house some was there already for month. I tried to contact the host but they did not answer my massages. I called airbnb and they credit me back, but in the man time my packages were on the way up. And we are stuck.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “Hi, I would like to be apart of whatever repercussions or actions against what happened in Orlando over Pesach. I have been a victim as well. I booked my Home in Orlando’s Champions Gate (1481 Rolling way) in October 22nd 2020 through VRBO and received an email this Sunday night at 10:30pm that my reservation has been canceled. I quickly messaged the owner and they said they cannot accommodate us due to one of their part guest we’re impacted by COVID-19 and any more than that they did not share or discuss all they mentioned was they “gave us enough notice to find another home) . I contact vrbo and they said their “book with confidence” policy cannot cover this. My parents were already on their way driving to Orlando and my food was packed on the truck headed towards Orlando. Almost $10k+ in damages”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “We booked 6132 Broad Oak Drive in Solterra on Jan 6 through vrbo. End of February it got canceled, saying that that owner “didn’t want to rent it”. A few days later (name of company removed) rented it to someone else.”
NOTE: The name of this company previously mentioned threatened YWN with legal action if their name is not removed.
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “We rented in December a house and paid in full and then in February got an email that we are being fully refunded. The house was off all websites so it’s not like someone by mistake was able to book it. Airbnb claimed that the owner wants it themselves for that week. 7654 Fairfax Drive in Encore was our address. We are going to go down on Pesach to see who stole our house. But anyone who took it knew there were no homes available in Encore as of the end of January. It’s not like they could claim they didn’t know.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “We booked a house on November 23, 2020 in Solterra through airbnb and found out at the end of January that the host gave us a fake address and when we contacted them for the right address, she said she didn’t have our booking or reservation. Even though, she charged our credit card over 3k for the deposit. Airbnb refunded us but at this point, we had to book two smaller houses, for more money to fit. Now, we don’t even know for sure that when we show up in Windsor at Westside, that our houses won’t be double booked G-d forbid. Let’s get a class action together against these hosts. I’m happy to provide whatever info an attorney might need.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “Our Passover airbnb home was booked in January. We shipped out personal items and food this past Sunday night. Today (Tuesday), one day before our flight it, we were contacted by the host saying the AC unit is out and he cannot accommodate us.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I booked January 1 to be cancelled in Feb 22. Thank gd Vrbo made up the difference.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “Hi if there is a lawyer working on hotels that canceled last minute cause of double booking if can let me know. We had a reservation at sea coast suite Miami and since Lasko took over the hotel after we booked they canceled my reservation so they can sell the room for five times as much.”
REAL STORY SENT TO YWN: “I Booked a 4 bedroom house in Orlando in Solara Resort and they called me up ti cancell becaise they clarines the house was already rented and the site where I Booked and got charged, is a site that is not updated. I had all my plans already made.”
(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)