Monday, May 3, 2010

Beware of unlicensed offsite operators

The results of the recent Circle on Cavill lawsuit is a warning both to renters and apartment owners who use unlicensed offsite operators.

Tailly leased about 40 apartments in Circle on Cavill from owners, on a long term basis, for example, on one year leases. He then advertised the apartments for rent on the Internet on a short term basis. The Federal Court found that his websites were illegal, and shut them down. Tailly then went into bankruptcy. The apartment owners were not paid rent. The renters and holidaymakers lost their money and had no booking -- Tailly collected the money upfront at the time of booking, and then spent the money. Tailly was not a licensed real estate agent or travel agent -- just a tenant illegally subletting his apartments.

So if you are an apartment owner, make sure that you are using a licensed real estate agent and that you prohibit your tenant from subletting. (In this case, many of the apartment owners used real estate agents that expressly allowed Tailly to sublet!) If you are a renter or holidaymaker, it is best to deal directly with the property or use a reputable website such as Wotif.

If you are getting a too-good-a-deal from eBay, Stayz or a website that is not operated by a real estate agent or travel agent, then watch out! Not all websites are legitimate.

Another example is Paul Whitehead and his company, WorldTourism. Take care when booking with WorldTourism, to make sure you understand who you are booking with. See story on A Current Affair, and these newspaper stories.

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