Renters sue Surf or Sound Realty over refunds

By on June 9, 2020

After weeks of seeking refunds for vacation properties they booked but could not access due to Dare County’s two-month long bridge closure, plaintiffs on June 9 filed a class action lawsuit against Surf or Sound Realty. The suit argues that the Hatteras Island company is required to reimburse them for reservations that could not be completed during the period of restricted access due to COVID-19.

Attorneys Gary Jackson and Chris Bagley of the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin filed the lawsuit in Dare County, arguing that Surf or Sound Realty originally told vacationers shut out by the bridge closure that they could receive a full refund. A June 9 press release by the law firm stated that Surf and Sound later reversed its refund policy by notifying customers they would not be issued a refund, but could choose alternative weeks for their vacations.

“This is a simple case of insisting that a company do what’s right and fair by its customers,” Jackson stated in the press release. “People invested in a vacation getaway at one of the most beautiful places in the world. They trusted Surf or Sound, which made assurances, then tried to change the rules. They can’t do that. And now, they need to make their customers whole.”

The Outer Banks Voice reported on June 2 that the North Carolina Real Estate Commission (NCREC) and the NC Department of Justice (NCDOJ) were investigating complaints filed by clients of Surf or Sound Realty. At that time, DOJ Communications Director Laura Brewer said the Attorney General’s office had received 68 complaints about the Hatteras real estate company. NCREC Legal Counsel Janet Thoren stated in an email that the commission has received “a number of complaints.”

Thoren also noted at the time that the commission, upon review of the law and consultation with the Attorney General’s Office, “has previously advised property managers that it is our opinion that tenants who were impacted by the road closures in Dare County were entitled to a refund.”

Some who had made reservations through Surf or Sound had also formed a private Facebook group last month as a platform for those who have not received rental refunds. The group currently has more than 500 members.

Surf or Sound attorney Lloyd Smith could not immediately be reached for comment, but in a June 2 interview with the Voice, he challenged NCREC’s opinion that landlords and real estate brokers should provide refunds to tenants during the bridge closure.

He said it was his opinion that “the premises were safe and habitable and could have been occupied, but for the government ordinance which prevented individuals from coming into Dare county to rent the homes…and we believe that the law is when government interference causes that, then the tenants’ claim is against the governmental interference and not the [landlord].”

Surf or Sound owner Dale Petty, in a May letter to his rental program’s homeowners, said the amount of guest refunds for the weeks of April 4 through May 16 amounted to just under $3 million.

See also: AG and NCREC probing Surf or Sound Realty


  • Justin Henning

    We could not visit our obx vacation home booked through surf or sound this year due to stay at home orders. Our CC Was charged $3100 without our consent. We were not even offered another date or house at another time.

    This is complete robbery!

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 4:25 pm
  • surf123

    Dale Petty is not in touch with reality on this matter. He will not win this lawsuit. I would think the issue is they do not have $3 million in funds available to pay out and getting it back from the homeowners is not going to happen.

    A better way to run the rental show is to put all of the monies in escrow to be doled out to the realty company and homeowner after the rental is complete. This is the way other real estate transactions work. This solves the problem with issues like this as the money is under the control of the escrow agent and not the realty or homeowner.

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 5:04 pm
  • Brenda Baugher

    We stayed with Surf and Sound last October. We will never use that realty again. Nasty people. Challenge it with your credit card company. Maybe this is the straw that will break the realty’s back.

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 5:14 pm
  • Sean

    Surf and sound need to be shut down nothing but greedy. Give them there money back better yet close up shop and move away we some need your type giving this place a bad name

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 6:13 pm
  • Sean

    Daley if I had a home in your program I’d be looking for another rental company. This is a small town and we all havecreputations to uphold

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 6:17 pm

    Maybe we will find these property owners and their agents have a legal right to withhold deposits. But, there is legal and there is what is just plain decent and ethical!

    I know these property owners where advised or expected a certain return on their investment. But sometimes investments don’t always work out. I think about all the restaurants, gyms, bars, hair salons, etc. who took a huge hit financially. They didn’t collect money from customers who had scheduled appointments during the time they were closed!

    Difference . . . The real estate market has very large lobbies at local, state and national levels.

    Bottom line. . . Do the right thing not necessarily that which you can legally do.

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 7:52 pm
  • Lou Briccant

    Justin Henning, if you booked the house and they charged your card how is it robbery? That said I’m not taking their side… join the lawsuit or file your own if you want to try and get your money back… you’ll have better luck with that than posting an odd complaint about them charging your card for a booking you made on a comment section.

    Tuesday, Jun 9 @ 8:28 pm
  • Trashcan Man

    It appears that the writing is on the wall for this SoS gang. And perhaps a sea change for the industry as well as vacationers move to AirB&B where the policies are more friendly, scheduling more flexible, and customers are valued.

    Wednesday, Jun 10 @ 9:38 am
  • hightider

    Good luck…the plaintiffs will find that there is no such thing here as lawyers admitting a conflict of interest. If you need to sue in any part of small town NC, you need a lawyer from Raleigh or Charlotte.

    Wednesday, Jun 10 @ 12:16 pm
  • Matt

    I hope SurforSound does the right thing by their guests. I’ve used them for my past 3 reservations and have always found them to be decent.

    Wednesday, Jun 10 @ 9:38 pm
  • CheetahOBX

    Funny how “comments” against the lessees is/are so skewd!
    As a property owner & real estate investor….I have ALWAYS given refunds…..under ALL circumstances….that’s why I have long, LONG term people…that love to do business with me!!!
    And do to this fact….I NEVER have to advertise!!! I do business by referral only! Anyone remember….”NAGS HEAD REALTY???”
    The “locos” on here…crack me up!!!

    Friday, Jun 12 @ 6:31 pm
  • Dave

    I have rented from surf or sound many times in the past. I won’t make that mistake again.

    Saturday, Jun 13 @ 6:29 am