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We are due to arrive Austin in two days and just yesterday received word that our lease would be terminated. In turns out that over the weekend, the house was sold and the new owner does not want to honor the five remaining contracts on the house. In the contract, there is no clause that the owner can terminate a contract for any reason, only if there is a breach (confirmed by a lawyer). There has been no breach and the currently have the full payment.
The management company has offered to move us to a different property 30 miles away on a different lake. The issue with that is that we actually have two houses in walking distance of each other and are contractually bound to the other house. Therefore, having two houses so far apart will ruin our vacation. We have looked for other houses close by, but there is nothing available. The management company has been very defensive and hostile, saying that they did their job by offering us a new property and doesn't owe us anything more. We've never spoken to the original owner or the new owner, and the management company won't provide that information.
My question is, what recourse do we have? Clearly, they owe us a full refund, but do they owe us for damages as a result of the breach? If we do have to take a house far away, would they have to cover the cost of transportation between the two or the cost of the house if it's more money? By they, I'm referring to the original owner or the management company -- not sure where the fault lies. Is it even worth pursing legal action?
Thanks. Really in a tough spot, so any help is appreciated.
I'm so sorry to hear this. You should have been informed that the house was on the market and there was a possibility it would be sold...especially before NOW!
I think you need to speak to a contract lawyer immediately. These are some huge issues that I think can only be answered by someone LEGALLY.
I think you definitely have a legal case but as to your vacation in 2 days...well that's another story. You may have to bit the bullet and accept the other home to try and salvage what you can of the vacation. Were both houses by the same management company? If so, maybe you can get two that are closer together. I agree, a tough spot.
I am not a lawyer, but I would have to imagine that if the manangement company cannot fulfill their agreement, a refund is certainly in order. With regards to damages, I think this might cost more than you would receive back. Cases such as these are typically not handled on a contingency basis and therefore, you would need to put up a retainer . Retainers might be more than damages received, if any. And, if you are not awarded damages, the retainer is lost.
I'm also sorry you're having to deal with this. I suggest you follow the above advice.
I do have one additional question/comment. Are you only looking at VRBO and Homeaway listings? If so i suggest you look on www.flipkey.com. You didn't mention which lake in the Austin area you are interested in, so hopefully they may have other listings.
And yes, you should receive a complete refund, immediately. Any professional property management company should have know about the pending sale and notified you WELL in advance.
Best of luck to you. I hope it works out!
Owners like that give the rest of us a black eye! I'm so sorry for you. THere's another thread on this site where someone was thinking of putting their house on the market and not sure whether to accept contracts -- the consensus was NO! Someone mentioned that in their state there was a law that a new owner had to respect any rental agreements entered into by the old owner. I don't know what Texas state laws are, and you will likely have to go to court to get that enforced, so it won't help you now, sadly.
Thanks for all the responses. The more I think about it, I'm not sure who is most at fault. I refer to the management company in my first post, but they're actually the real estate company who sold the place. So it seems to me that they sold the place, collected their comission, then tried to push us into one of their other unrented places so that they could also collect the rental comission. For all I know, they may have told the owner that it was okay to go this route.
Anyway, seeing as we're leaving tomorrow, I'm giving up for now. The other house owner (not dealing with a middle man) has been very accomodating, opening up another apartment in the basement of the house, and letting us go over capacity for a nominal fee.
It's a bad situation, but even with the cramped housing arrangement, we'll still hopefully enjoy the vacation.
Ron, I'm glad to hear you've found a place to stay that will work for your vacation.
And I want to thank you for posting this information. It's another example for those of us who are private VR owners who manage our own properties (and don't use property management companies via Real Estate firms) to realize that our dedication to our guests are so important.
Safe travels, and happy times to you and yours!
I highly advise at the very least a consultation with a local Texas attorny!!
I am so sorry to hear of your frustrations, and as stated above, it makes us owners look bad, but it also makes the rental company look worse.
I realize you stay is Probay over and I hope everything worked out well for you despite the set backs.
I will tell you that you need to still consult with an attorny in Texas. There are several problems I see here. In the state of Texas, existing rental contracts must be honored by a new buyer. Texas doesn't have too many laws for short term/vacation rentals so you need to find out if your contract is covered by this coverage. The breech of contract falls within the new owner.
Secondly, the rental agency should have a clause in their contract with you that they can substitute a similar property at their discretion (that's a whole other can of worms that makes my skin crawl as an owner and a renter). Being that the substitute property was 30 miles away, which in Austin is probably anywhere from 45 minutes to an hour away, and on an entirely different lake, that's not what I consider a substitute property. So this means the management company had a breech of contract as well. You also did not receive full disclosure, which is terribly wrong on the part of the management company, but I don't think you have a legal claim on that, but I could be wrong. I do know that during real estate transactions, all rental contracts have to be disclosed to the prospective buyers and the renters must be made aware of property listed for sale.
Also, in Texas, when you go for damages, you are allowed to add in your attorney's fees as well.
Good luck to you!!!