'Buyer beware' signs anger developer

February 13, 1994|By Mary Gail Hare | Mary Gail Hare,Sun Staff Writer

"Buyer beware" signs posted in two Hawk Ridge Farm homes must come down or the owners may face civil lawsuits by the builder.

"Unless the signs are permanently removed from your window within 24 hours," attorneys for Powers Homes told the residents in a letter dated Feb. 8, the lawyers "will take immediate action in the Circuit Court for Carroll County."

Rose Ann Fischer received her letter Thursday and immediately posted two more signs in her bay window.

"I am not letting them win," said Ms. Fischer, who said she has lodged innumerable complaints with the builder since she moved into her $247,000 Caracara Court home in November 1992.

"It's OK for them to give me a lemon for a house, but it's not OK for me to complain," she said.

The letters, signed by Barry Weiskopf of the Kaplan, Heyman, Greenberg, Engelman and Belgrad law firm in Baltimore, said that "display of the sign constitutes libel against my client and intentional interference of prospective contracts."

"This is a ploy to delay action on long-overdue problems," said Ann Marie Osinga, who received a similar letter Thursday.

Ms. Osinga, of Norris Avenue, added "windows leak for over a year" to her "buyer beware" sign.

"The letter doesn't scare me at all," said Ms. Osinga, a member of the Sykesville Planning Commission. "Powers breached their contract, and I have documents to prove it."

The contractor had until January 1993 to repair windows "that are still leaking in February 1994," Ms. Osinga said. She said she posted her sign on advice from "legal counsel."

"My one sign probably does more damage, because I live next to the [Powers] model," she said.

Ms. Fischer added "heat pump broke in one year" to her warning to buyers.

In his letter, Mr. Weiskopf called her statement "false and misleading" because the pump needed only one repair.

Her heat pump -- one week out of warranty -- needed a new defroster. The Powers subcontractor warned of a long delay for the part. After several phone calls, Ms. Fischer was able to buy the part from another dealer. "The same thing happened to another couple here who waited weeks for the part," she said.

The letters threaten court action to force removal of the signs and address "damages my client incurred as a result of your continual display."

"They accuse us of ruining their business," said Ms. Osinga. "We are accusing them of mistreating customers."

Both women said they would like the developer to buy back their houses. "I don't feel we got the quality we paid for," said Ms. Osinga.

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