Home rental agency climb gets 'F' from business group

The Phoenix office of the Better Business Bureau has given Major Event Rentals an F — its lowest rating — after nearly 1,300 people inquired about the company and 18 filed official complaints.

The main complaint has been that the company refuses to refund $900 to $1,700 in upfront fees that homeowners in Kentucky paid the company to find renters for their properties during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

(Lexington-based Event Home Leasing, the official housing rental agency for the Games, charges $199 plus commission.)

In exchange for the fee and a percentage of rental profits, the company, which is based in Phoenix, promised home owners returns of $30,000 or more if they rented their homes to visitors for the 16-day run of the Games, customers have said.

The payment, according to a contract obtained by the Herald-Leader, covered legal fees, background checks of potential renters, photographs of the homes, advertising, creating a virtual tour online and inclusion in marketing brochures.

Homeowners filing complaints contend their contracts stipulated a full refund. However, in an interview with the Herald-Leader last month, owner Ajmal Leyasi said he resolved several complaints with the BBB by showing them a contract that states homeowners aren't eligible for refunds.

The contract obtained by the Herald-Leader provides for a refund "if the company fails to comply with any provision under this agreement" but does not state that there is a guarantee the home will be rented.

Company officials could not be reached Tuesday because voice mail at the listed phone numbers was not accepting messages.

The BBB report states that company officials have not resolved any of the complaints.

It's unclear just how many homeowners are involved. The Major Event Rental Web site — which claims to have the largest number of homes to rent for WEG — lists 108 homes. But some homeowners who paid the fees have complained that their properties were not listed on the site.

The BBB report is based on the 18 official complaints.

The BBB is urging consumers to file complaints with the Kentucky attorney general's office, which oversees consumer protection cases, said Felicia Thompson, vice president of communications for the Better Business Bureau of Central, Northern and Western Arizona. (Complaints are filed through the BBB branch that covers the area where the company has its home office.)

Eleven complaints have been filed with the state attorney general's office, said Allison Martin, spokeswoman for Attorney General Jack Conway.

Martin said that the attorney general's investigation is ongoing and that she couldn't comment on any additional action that might be taken against the company.

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader