Home builder settles with Gansler

Nick Rees Feb. 19, 2010, 10:42am


BALTIMORE (Legal Newsline) - A Maryland home builder has been ordered to refund payments meant for home construction and pay penalties, Maryland Attorney General Doug Gansler has announced.

Home at Last LLC and Jacquelyn Willis, its principal, are required to refund $211,076.20 in payments collected from consumers in Prince George's County to construct homes and to pay penalties of $75,200.

Home at Last and Willis were found by Gansler's Consumer Protection Division to have violated Maryland's Custom Home Protect Act by failing to place or maintain in an escrow account money paid by consumers and by failing to have a surety bond to cover the deposits and payments made.

Willis and her company were also found to have been in violation of the Home Builder Registration Act and the Consumer Protection Act through their failure to build homes as promised.

According to the Consumer Protection Division, Willis and her company collected substantial deposits and payments from at least four families for the construction of new homes.

The defendants then failed to protect those payments, which is required by Maryland law, failed to begin construction of the homes and failed to pay the consumers refunds, Gansler said.

Under the final order, Willis and Home at Last are barred from acting as a home builder in Maryland unless requirements set by the Consumer Protection Division to be registered as a home builder under Maryland's Home Builder Registration Act are met.

"Before paying any money towards the construction of a new home, consumers need to protect the biggest investment of their lifetime by ensuring that their home is being built by a registered home builder and that any deposits they make are protected by an escrow account, bond or letter of credit," Gansler said.

In a similar action, the Consumer Protection Division also suspended GM Homes LLC of Forest Hills' registration for failing to enroll homes in a new home warranty plan as promised and for failure to make repairs to homes.

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