JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Action News Jax has found more attorneys general are taking action against a Florida real estate company after an Action News Jax investigation. We first told you about MV Realty in November, when local homeowners claimed they signed a 40-year deal and didn’t know about it.
Less than one week later, the Florida Attorney General filed suit against the company and its owner. Now, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts are suing as well.
Local homeowner, Sheila Feliciano signed the company’s Homeowner Agreement, never knowing, she said, that it would cost her. When asked if she had any idea it was a 40-year deal she said, “Forty years? Not at all.”
MV signed her after giving her $650 cash. One year later, they sued her for twelve times that amount -- $7,800 -- when she accepted an offer on her home without ever listing it. She was shocked, she says.
“Are you kidding me? Are you really serious,” she said about her conversation with the company, “I can’t pay my way out of this. I can’t give you back your $650? They were like, ‘No, you signed the contract.’ So it was cut and dry.”
Now, MV Realty is the one facing lawsuits. The Florida Attorney General filed suit Nov. 30. On Wednesday, the Attorneys General of Massachusetts and Pennsylvania announced they were, too.
Pennsylvania Senior Deputy Attorney General Debra Djupman Warring said MV Realty is “far outside the norm of industry standards and not something consumers would reasonably expect.”
An MV Realty spokesperson issued the following statement about the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s filing:
“MV Realty has helped more than 30,000 satisfied clients nationwide through our Homeowner Benefit Agreement (HBA) by providing our clients up to $5,000 that can be used to pay their mortgage, utility bills or improve their financial standing. In return, we only ask to be their realtor if they sell their home during the term of our agreement
“We are proud that our team in Pennsylvania consists of local, licensed real estate agents. And when our realtors explain HBAs to clients, they always work in a transparent dialogue to ensure that each client understands the terms of the agreement.
“New and innovative business models, like the HBA, can transform established industries and can sometimes draw questions from critics or outright hostility from those whose existing business model is threatened. However, to suggest that MV Realty has engaged in unfair or deceptive practices is simply false.
“After a full airing of the facts, we are confident that the conclusion will be that MV Realty’s business transactions are in full compliance with Pennsylvania law. As this process moves forward, we remain fully committed to working with Pennsylvania policymakers, including the Attorney General, to discuss appropriate regulations and oversight for the new and emerging business.”
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So far, the cases seek to stop MV from enforcing its existing contracts and stopping it from signing new ones. They also want the company to return the money it has taken from homeowners and pay civil penalties for violating the law.
The Florida Attorney General is asking homeowners to come forward if they’ve signed a deal with MV Realty. They can do that by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or file a complaint online at MyFloridaLegal.com.