Prominent entrepreneur's lawsuit claims $80K Kelowna vacation rental was fraudulent

$80K VRBO rental goes bad

An Okanagan businessman says he’s been ripped off for $80,000 by the owner of a Kelowna luxury vacation rental property.

Ed Alfke, board chair of Calgary-based Radicle and veteran angel investor in the Okanagan, filed a lawsuit in BC Supreme Court last month naming Alain Karout.

The lawsuit claims Alfke responded to Karout’s VRBO listing and struck a deal in February 2021 to rent an Elridge Court home for $80,000 for three months in summer 2021.

Alfke and his fiancee planned to get married in Kelowna that summer and acquired the rental because their summer home in Vernon had burned down and has not been rebuilt.

The pandemic, however, had other plans and the wedding and home rental deal was pushed a year to this summer.

Alfke alleges in his lawsuit that on June 6, about three weeks before the rental was supposed to start, Karout sent an email announcing that the reservation was cancelled, the home was for sale, and he was keeping the $80,000.

“The defendant’s breach of the contract has caused severe distress to the plaintiff, family members and guests due to the extremely short notice cancellation of the reservation,” the lawsuit says, alleging the listing made fraudulent misrepresentations about the availability of the home.

While they were able to scramble and find a new home to rent, and the wedding went ahead on July 10 at a local winery, newlywed Myrna Alfke told Castanet in an interview the event they planned for two years became a massive ordeal.

“I couldn't focus on the wedding because of what he did. We didn't have a place for family to come,” she said. “And just the shock, the financial shock of it — we didn't plan for another $80,000 in accommodation costs.”

“I’m 72,” noted Ed Alfke in an interview. “My wife is 66. We returned to Kelowna to hold our wedding with our family and our grandchildren. That house was sort of the centre of it."

“We booked this two years out, and the guy just took our money. It's fraudulent, there's no other way to put it.”

Castanet reached out to Karout for comment through an AirBnb listing for the home in question but received no response. The AirBnb listing was deactivated shortly after Castanet sent the message.

The Alfkes found Karout through VRBO and have been completely unable to get a hold of the platform to advise them of the situation so far.

Ed Alfke alleges Karout has been dodging the lawsuit’s process server for weeks, so he’s going back to court to get a judge’s permission to “nail it to the front door.”

He suspects he’s about to embark on years of court proceedings to get his money back, but he’s not about to let it go.

“We’re going to make a big deal out of it.”

“I've lived here since '69. I've never heard of anything like this. And nobody I know has ever heard of this happening,” he said, calling the episode “horrible” for the local vacation rental industry.

Alfke's lawsuit seeks the return of $80,000 plus damages for the additional rent they have had to pay.

None of the allegations in the lawsuit have been argued in court.

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