The Delaware Department of Justice has filed a civil lawsuit in the Court of Chancery against the developer of The Villages of Noble’s Pond – a 55-plus community – in Dover.  The lawsuit cites numerous violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, Deceptive Trade Practices Act and other Delaware laws protecting consumers against unlawful and predatory behavior.  President of Regal Builders, Harry Miller is charged with making misleading and deceptive statements in its advertising to prospective home buyers and failing to provide disclosures required to prospective home purchasers under Delaware law.

According to the complaint, Regal Builders requires home buyers to agree to deed restrictions that contain confusing and unintelligible provisions, misrepresent and omit material facts, and include impermissible terms and conditions, all in violation of Delaware law.  The complaint also alleges that the developer violated Delaware law by forcing residents to buy telecommunications and propane services through companies owned by the developer, often at a substantial markup.  Finally, the complaint alleges that Regal Builders falsely portrays the community’s clubhouse as a community amenity, when, in fact, the clubhouse is privately owned and residents cannot participate in its management.

The State asks the Court of Chancery to halt Regal Builders’ deceptive advertising and sale practices, compel the company to provide all statutorily-mandated disclosure to prospective home buyers, and remove confusing and unlawful provisions from the community’s deed restrictions.  The complaint also asks that homeowners be allowed to have meaningful choices in utility service providers, that the developer be prohibited from collecting certain clubhouse fees so long as the clubhouse remains privately owned, and that the Court award restitution and civil penalties.

In addition to Regal Builders and Harry D. Miller III, the complaint names Galaxy Networks, LLC, County Propane of Delmarva, LLC, and a variety of other entities Miller owns, manages, or controls, as defendants.

A copy of the complaint is available here.