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ABC Special Report
Investigation: New Home Heartbreak
Trump - NAHB Homebuilders Shoddy Construction and Forced Arbitration
WOMAN SAYS TOWNHOUSE IS A LEMON
Thursday, 16 June 2005
WHEN TREMONT TOWER SUED HER, SHE SAYS SHE OFFERED TO TAKE THE LEMONS DOWN. BUT THEY TOOK HER TO COURT FOR VIOLATIONG HER HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT. TODAY A JUDGE SAID IF SHE KEEPS THE LEMONS AWAY, SHE DOESN'T OWE THEM A DIME. BUT UNLIKE LEMON LAWS THAT PROTECT CAR BUYERS, EXPERTS SAY CONDO OWNERS ARE LEGALLY LEFT IN THE LURCH.
 WOMAN SAYS TOWNHOUSE IS A LEMON
HOUSTON'S WB39 NEWS AT 9 SCRIPT
---IF YOU'VE EVER HAD BUYER'S REMORSE, YOU JUST MIGHT RELATE TO THIS STORY. A HOUSTON WOMAN SAYS HER BRAND NEW CONDO IS A LEMON. SHE SAYS HER COMPLAINTS FELL ON DEAF EARS SO SHE TOOK ACTION WITH A PAINT BRUSH, DISPLAYING LARGE LEMONS IN HER WINDOWS TO WARN WOULD-BE BUYERS TO STAY AWAY. THE WB'S KATIE MCCALL HAS THE STORY. -------- THOSE LEMONS LANDED THE HOMEOWNER IN COURT TODAY. SHE SAYS WHEN IT COMES TO CONDOS IN TEXAS, IT IS BUYER BEWARE. HEATHER MICKELSON PAID $230,000 FOR A CONDOMINIUM AT TREMONT TOWER BUT SHE SAYS WHAT SHE GOT WAS A LEMON. ((HEATHER MICKELSON/CONDO OWNER: "Here's some of the rust."))

FROM OUTSIDE TO INSIDE... ((HEATHER MICKELSON/CONDO OWNER: "As you can see here in the shower, it's just really cheap construction."))

SHE SAYS THE PLACE IS FALLING APART. THERE ARE LEAKS IN HER WALLS FROM RAIN, AND CRACKS IN THE COUNTERTOPS. AND SHE SAYS THE WORST PART IS THE TOXIC MOLD THAT MADE HER SICK. ((HEATHER MICKELSON/CONDO OWNER: "Bloody noses, mild fevers constantly."))

WHEN A LAB TEST SHOWED FOUR MOLDS PRESENT, HER DOCTOR TOLD HER TO MOVE OUT. SHE SAYS SHE REPEATEDLY COMPLAINED TO TREMONT TOWER BUT THEY REFUSED TO HELP. SO HEATHER PAINTED LEMONS IN HER WINDOWS WARNING OTHERS TO STAY AWAY. ((HEATHER MICKELSON/CONDO OWNER: "This is one of my lovely lemons I've since had to take down."))

WHEN TREMONT TOWER SUED HER, SHE SAYS SHE OFFERED TO TAKE THE LEMONS DOWN. BUT THEY TOOK HER TO COURT FOR VIOLATIONG HER HOMEOWNERS ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT. TODAY A JUDGE SAID IF SHE KEEPS THE LEMONS AWAY, SHE DOESN'T OWE THEM A DIME. BUT UNLIKE LEMON LAWS THAT PROTECT CAR BUYERS, EXPERTS SAY CONDO OWNERS ARE LEGALLY LEFT IN THE LURCH. ((JANET AHMED/HOME OWNERS FOR BETTER BUILDING: "We get more protection when we buy a hotdog in this state. When we make the biggest purchase of our life it seems like no one cares."))

SINCE THERE IS NO STATE AGENCY TO INVESTIGATE CONDO OWNERS' COMPLAINTS AGAINST BUILDERS, MICKELSON SAYS SHE IS OUT OF LUCK. SHE'S ALSO OUT OF A HOME BECAUSE SHE SAYS NO ONE WANTS TO BUY HERS. TREMONT TOWER DID NOT RETURN OUR CALLS. NEITHER DID IT'S BUILDER. MICKELSON SAYS THE ORDEAL HAS TAKEN ITS TOLL ON HER AND THAT THE BANK HAS FORECLOSED ON HER CONDO. KATIE MCCALL, WB 39 NEWS.
 
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Reckless Endangerment
BY: GRETCHEN MORGENSON
and JOSHUA ROSNER

Outsized Ambition, Greed and
Corruption Led to
Economic Armageddon


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