Exclusive: Vacation rental operator faces $36K in fines - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Exclusive: Vacation rental operator faces $36K in fines

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A man accused of running a vacation rental scam has been fined $36,000 by the city for not having proper permits.

Honolulu Planning officials have fined Lawrence Zuanich and the Cabello Family Trust as much as $1,000 a day since December for operating a Sunset Beach home without a vacation rental certificate.

"It just kind of confirms that he has put the screws to other people besides us and it's a shame and there are more people out there whom he hurt," said Donna Bailey, a Houston resident who rented Zuanich's home.

Zuanich has not paid the fines and city planners say they plan to turn over the case to city lawyers, who will seek to collect.

Consumer watchdogs say they're seeing a rise complaints about rental scams and illegal vacation rentals.

"We have seen an influx," said Hawaii Better Business Bureau spokesman Tim Caminos.

"We're had the extreme -- everywhere from the property did not exist whatsoever and somebody was living in it -- or that the property chosen was not as advertised."

Hawaii News Now reported on Friday that the Houston group had planned a week-long reunion at Zuanich's Makanale Street home only to find out that the home was a dump.

Bailey said her group gave Zuanich $6,200 after seeing Internet ads touting the five-bedroom home's beachfront location, its well-kept backyard pool and comfortable island-style interior.

But when they arrived last week, they found cockroach infestations, rat droppings, shattered sliding glass doors and bathroom fixtures and windows shot out by pellet guns.

"Once I saw the state of the property, it was unbelievable. I myself couldn't believe that anybody would do this to other people," said Don Cox of Houston.

Added Connie Paxton, also of Houston:

"We're still out $6,000 and even though he has promised to return our money we still have not seen it," she said.

Hawaii News Now has tried to contact Zuanich several times but he has not returned our calls.

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