JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Some Florida homeowners say they were unaware of a settlement between the State of Florida and builder KB Home involving stucco issues with its homes, and as a result, they missed the window to submit a claim for repair.
Under the terms of the settlement, which expired December 31, 2018, the builder was not required to notify all homeowners that they could be eligible.
Katherine Telford is one of several homeowners who have filed complaints with the Florida Attorney General. She moved into her Jacksonville home in 2012.
“I saved up a lot of money to buy this home, I love it,” she said.
But the home she loves is now having stucco issues. Cracks have appeared around the exterior of the home. Telford tells Action News Jax that KB Home sent someone to look at her stucco back in 2012.
In this March 2019 complaint to Florida's Attorney General, Telford said she was told "the house was settling."
Action News Jax reported in 2016 when KB Home agreed to pay more than $23 million in a settlement over alleged violations of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act.
In October 2018, our follow-up revealed a lawsuit filed by some Central Florida homeowners against KB Home saying the company is ignoring the settlement by refusing to do repairs or in some cases not applying enough coats of stucco.
Barry Ansbacher is a real estate attorney in Jacksonville.
“If people lose confidence in buying Florida homes it degrades our brand and hurts everybody," he said.
As part of the 2016 settlement, homeowners were responsible for submitting a request to KB Home via telephone or email. Telford said because the company wasn’t required to notify homeowners, she was unaware that she could call or email a request.
According to Ansbacher, even though Florida law requires you to file a lawsuit or arbitration claim within four years of finding a defect, there may still be hope for Telford and other buyers.
He said when Telford claimed the KB Home worker said "the house was settling," a court could find that she wasn't on notice and the time to bring a claim didn't start until later, when she said she discovered the issues.
Action News Jax emailed Florida’s Attorney General about the terms of the settlement and received this statement:
"The consent decree required KB Home to contact homeowners who had notified our office about problems with their homes to initiate inspections. Other homeowners needed to contact KB Home to initiate the inspection process because many homeowners have not been affected by the issues in the settlement."
According to the Attorney General, “It received 25 stucco complaints from homeowners since the court entered the Consent Decree in February 2016. A total of 650 homes have been repaired because of the investigation and settlement—including 154 since the court entered the Consent Decree. More than 500 homeowners have received restitution as a result of the settlement.”
KB Home responded to every email and call made by Action News Jax. A spokesperson sent this statement involving Katherine Telford’s issues:
"I appreciate you reaching out and sorry for the delay. We would like to provide you information on background and clarification to the claims. Our records indicate that Kat Telford did not make a claim regarding her stucco pursuant to the consent decree with the Office of Attorney General. We do not have any current stucco claims with this homeowner, and the consent decree expired by its own terms as of December 31, 2018. As part of our customer service commitment, we have reached out to Ms. Telford and have set an appointment to visit her home and follow our customer service protocol to address her stucco concerns."
KB Home inspectors did show up the next day. A spokesperson told Action News Jax, "We don't mind at all following up and sharing our findings.”
A few days after that inspection, Telford received a rejection letter from KB Home, saying her home, “did not meet the repair standards in either her limited home warranty or the consent decree with the AG’s office.”
In a statement the company spokesperson said:
"KB Home is committed to building quality homes and providing exceptional customer service. Ms. Telford's home was inspected, and it was determined that it did not meet the repair standards in either her limited home warranty or those as outlined in the consent decree with the Florida Attorney General's Office, which expired December 31, 2018."
Cox Media Group