Short-Term Solutions is a well-established business similar to HomeAway or Airbnb that provides a listing service for corporations and individuals seeking short-term furnished rentals in the Boston area.
In 2012, an Austin-based businessman used Short-Term Solutions to find an apartment in Downtown Boston. He signed a short-term lease agreement with the landlord for a furnished apartment, but 11 days before he was due to arrive in Boston, the landlord pulled out of the deal.
Rather than sue the landlord, the businessman chose to file a lawsuit against Short-Term Solutions in Travis County. Just three days before the case was scheduled for trial, Short-Term Solutions hired Pete Reid Law. Pete Reid was able to secure a continuance of the trial setting and then immediately filed a motion to have the entire case dismissed.
The model of Short-Term Solutions is similar to that of the national listing companies, in that once the prospective tenant has chosen an apartment, the tenant contracts directly with the appropriate landlord, not the rental site, for the lease of the property.
In the past year, HomeAway has been in the spotlight over this issue. The company received much attention for multiple reports of “phishing” cases between prospective tenants and rental homeowners. In response to questions concerning the company’s liability in these cases, Carl Shepherd, HomeAway’s co-founder, stated “It is from our judgment – from our legal position, from our attorneys – that we have no legal liability… we have a marketplace. We are not a party to the transaction.”
At a hearing on September 26, 2013, Mr. Reid argued that Summary Judgment was justified because the businessman lacked privity of contract with Short-Term Solutions, since there was no evidence of a contract existing between him and the listing site. After listening to Mr. Reid, the Judge agreed without hesitation.
On that day, justice swept the Courtroom. Not only did Mr. Reid’s strategy in the Courtroom prove effective, but the Court’s order also granted Short-Term Solutions recovery of all of its attorneys’ fees from the businessman who brought the lawsuit.
CC Image Courtesy of Laurie Breton.