Kelowna luxury vacation rental forced to return deposit after owners separated, blamed each other | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Kelowna luxury vacation rental forced to return deposit after owners separated, blamed each other

Image Credit: Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge

A separated Kelowna couple who blamed each other in an effort to skirt the responsibility of paying back a $3,000 deposit for a vacation rental property they owned, will have to cough up the cash after the disgruntled client took them to the small claims court.

According to a Dec. 12 Civil Resolution Tribunal decision, Jordyn Beaumier paid a $3,500 deposit to Laurinda and Darren Kalawarny who ran the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge for a three-night stay in May. The advent of COVID-19 meant Beaumier cancelled her reservation at the luxury lake side property and asked for her money back, minus a $500 cancellation fee.

However, Laurinda and Darren separated in March and both refused to give the money back, each saying it was the responsibility of the other.

After trying but failing to get the issue resolved, Beaumier took them to the small claims court.

Tribunal member Chad McCarthy ruled the couple had failed to prove the details of any separation agreement or that the Gyro Beach Lodge was a legal entity separate from its operators, and ordered the couple to pay Beaumier the $3,000 she was rightfully owed.

The tribunal member also dismissed an extra $500 "rebooking fee" Laurinda had said applied to Beaumier's cancellation.

"I note no rebooking fee is mentioned in Gyro’s cancellation policy," the tribunal member said in the decision.

The case highlights the difficulties in getting deposits back in the ever-popular vacation rental market if things go wrong.

The case is also the second time in a month the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge has been taken to the small claims court.

READ MORE: Kelowna vacation rental forced to return deposit to partying guests who broke the rules

In an earlier decision Dec. 2, a former guest took Darren to the civil tribunal after he refused to give him back a $1,000 deposit because he said the group partied all night and broke the rules. The tribunal awarded the former guest $700 in the dispute.

According to this decision, Darren's only submission in the dispute was that the reservation was made through his wife. In turn, Laurinda claims the couple had a separation agreement and that the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge was his responsibility.

"However, there is no signed separation agreement in evidence, and Ms. Kalawarny does not explain why she failed to submit the agreement," reads the decision.

The tribunal member goes on to say evidence shows that Beaumier was dealing with Laurinda via text message up until June and she continued to represent the Boyce Gyro Beach Lodge, "regardless of any separation."

But the tribunal member goes onto say just because Beaumier was dealing with Laurinda doesn't mean Darren isn't also responsible for the refund.

In the decision, Laurinda says that Beaumier cancelled her reservation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, although it's not clear why this would affect the refund policy.

"I find that whether this cancellation was because of COVID-19 concerns, and whether the respondents had difficulty paying refunds because of COVID-19, does not affect whether the respondents owed Ms. Beaumier a refund," reads the decision.

The decision goes on to say that on June 1, Laurinda told Beaumier there would be "no refunds at that time" but that a refund would be provided sometime later.

"Although this correspondence suggests cash flow issues may have affected the respondents’ ability to pay the $3,000 refund, I find that does not affect whether they owed Ms. Beaumier the refund," the decision said.

Ultimately, the tribunal ruled the couple had failed to prove that the other was responsible for the cash and finds that the would-be guest is owed her $3,000 deposit.

"For clarity, the respondents owe this amount jointly and severally, which means Ms. Beaumier can collect the entire amount from either respondent," the decision reads.

The couple now has 30 days to pay $3,145 including fees and interest.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Ben Bulmer or call (250) 309-5230 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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