Westview Estates residents have filed suit for fraud and breach of contract against K. Hovnanian Homes alleging the company knew the Lancaster City, Calif., community had water issues and failed to divulge the information to residents.
Residents claim water stops midshower, washing machines halt midcycle, toilets take hours to refill, and at times no water at all comes out of faucets. They also claim showering and watering lawns simultaneously is impossible and fire alarms sound in the middle of the night.
The community, slated to have 425 homes on 120 acres of former farmland, currently has 35 built homes with 23 of them sold; four have either been foreclosed or are going through the process.
"These homes are worthless now," said residents' attorney Jamie Duarte. "You can't give them away."
Duarte said that residents are asking the company to pay out approximately $10 million, or the $450,000 each of the residents paid for their home. However, according to Duarte, Hovnanian does not want to pay them back for two reasons: the homes have dropped in value and the company would take a negative hit. Hovnanian officials said the company is not responsible because both Los Angeles County and the City of Lancaster granted occupancy permits for the homes. The city and county are also named in the lawsuit. Neither representatives from the local governments or Hovnanian's lawyers returned calls to Big Builder.
When the community was first built, Hovnanian put in three-mile sewer and water mains to the development because of the distance of the community to the city's main utilities. However, because of the location of the community, which sits 3,500 feet up in altitude, water drains out of the pipes when the lower Lancaster City residents use water.
Duarte added that the County Water Works staff has begun repairing the water problem and have built a temporary mini pump station just outside of the community to get water flowing into the homes.
"It has improved dramatically," Duarte said, but noting that residents still do not have continual flowing water. "It all depends on the time of day if they can take a shower or flush a toilet," Duarte explained.
Waterview Estates residents, at this point according to Duarte, do not want to stay in the community. They just want their money back so they can leave. "These homes should have never been sold," Duarte added.