Developers of one of the state’s largest 55-plus developments are the target of Chancery Court lawsuit filed by the Delaware Attorney General’s Office. Attorney General Kathy Jennings said dozens of complaints were made by homeowners.
The Delaware Department of Justice filed suit against the developer of The Villages of Noble’s Pond, an 879-lot “55-plus” community in Kent County, for violations of the Consumer Fraud Act, the Deceptive Trade Practices Act, and other Delaware laws.
Attorney General Kathy Jennings announced the civil complaint in the Court of Chancery, which charges the developer, Regal Builders, LLC, its president, Harry Miller, and related entities. According to a release, the developer made “misleading and deceptive statements in its advertising to prospective homebuyers” and failed to provide disclosures required to prospective home purchasers required 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.
A marketing communications representative for the development said she had no information on the legal action.
The complaint also claims 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.
The complaint further 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.
“My office initiated its investigation after receiving dozens of complaints from homeowners, many of them seniors, who did not receive what had been advertised to them when they were purchasing their homes,” Jennings stated in a release. “When a developer engages in such wide-scale conduct to take advantage of homebuyers, that is the time for legal action by our department on behalf of consumers. The purchase of a home is often the most consequential financial decision one can make; Delawareans should be able to choose their future residence without fear that a developer is misleading them about the community in which they will live.”
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 homebuyers and remove confusing and unlawful provisions from the community’s deed restrictions.
Developers have worked to portray the community in a positive light in press releases and other promotions, with the clubhouse The community recently received a “Best of the Best” Award for Best Social Club fromideal LIVINGMagazine.
The complaint also asks that homeowners be allowed to have meaningful choices in utility service providers and bar the developer from collecting certain clubhouse fees so long as the clubhouse remains privately owned. The state also seeks 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.
The community. outside Dover is on 300 acres of former farmland. Prices start in the $300,000 area. Amenities include theclubhouse, a large outdoor pool, bocce courts, a putting green, tennis and pickleball courts, a five-acre pond with a pier and observation deck, walking trails and a community garden.