Short-term Rental Rip-off Recovery
24 April 2012
When we arrived here nearly 3 years ago we were ripped off by a seemingly charming lady who runs a short term apartment rental business in Jerusalem. Unfortunately we didn’t check her references on Tripadvisor.com which would have opened our eyes and saved us a truckload of aggravation.
We had prepaid $3,000 but couldn’t stay in this smelly apartment in the midst of undergoing renovations. So we were forced to move into a hotel until we found something clean and decent.
Initially we were promised our money back but then she not only refused to refund us, but demanded the exorbitant additional amount for her lost rental of $7,000! With all the other pressures on us as new Olim, we decided to write it off as an expensive lesson….
A few months later our son was born, and my wife was offered a volunteer from the organisation Em La Em to guide her as a new mother in Israel. We both met this wonderful person Lissa who came to visit Chava every week, and we became firm friends – which led to our visiting Lissa’s home and meeting her delightful children – and her husband – the one and only Tzvi Szajnbrum!
As one inevitably does with a lawyer, I mentioned how I was still licking my wounds from our first rental experience in Israel. In his inimitable way, Tzvi proposed that we sue this lady, and although he could not promise success, he asked for a reasonable amount to start the process and file the necessary papers and documents.
This lady and her lawyer managed to avoid Tzvi for a while, but he eventually tracked her down. Even then, the lady’s lawyer tried to prevaricate and postpone, but he was no match for our lawyer, the tenacious Tzvi Szajnbrum! They tried various ways to nuance the case, even stooping so low as to try and “pass the buck” to the owners of the apartment, who, it transpired, had also been somewhat misled by the good lady.
Based upon the reviews we read on Tripadvisor.com and correspondence we had with people I located on Craig’s List in the States it would seem that this lady has made a career out of extracting money for doubtful renovations and keys from unsuspecting apartment owners, and then renting out sub-standard apartments at extremely high rentals to people who, by definition of their seeking short term rentals, are not going to be in Israel long enough to take her to court and obtain rightful restitution.
Two and a half years later we had our day in court. Tzvi and his Associate (Tzvika Shai from Shlomo Levy, Tzvi’s firm) showed the lady and her witness up for what they were. It took another month for the Honorable Judge to receive the summations from all parties and issue his judgment, which refunded our $3,000 in full. Tzvi’s fees, costs and the filing fees amounted to about 20% of our $3,000 which we had resigned ourselves to never seeing again. The lady’s lawyer tried to weasel out of his client paying by making up more silly stories, but Tzvi saw through it all, and the cheque was deposited into our account today.
Our sincere thanks and Kol HaKavod to Tzvi for a fantastic job!