October 10, 2007

Homebuilders may be liable for misrepresentation for constructing features that would violate neighborhood restrictions when used by the homebuyer


The defendant had her house built in a restricted subdivision and began using it for operation of her fitness training business. The owners of the corporation that developed the neighborhood and constructed the defendant's house were also controlling members of the subdivision homeowners association's board of directors. The homeowners association filed suit to permanently enjoin the defendant from conducting her business out of her home upon grounds that such activity violated subdivision restrictions. In her answer and countersuit, the defendant argued that the homeowners association's controlling board members had waived the restrictions by certain actions during construction of her house. The defendant also filed a third party complaint against the development corporation and against the individual owners of the corporation for misrepresentation. Upon motions for directed verdict, the trial court granted the homeowners association's request for a permanent injunction and dismissed the defendant's countercomplaint against that entity. The trial court also dismissed the defendant's complaint against the individual owners by directed verdict, but denied the development corporation's motion for directed verdict. A jury then found the development corporation liable for misrepresentation. On appeal, we conclude that the trial court did not err in granting the homeowners association's motion for directed verdict or in failing to grant the development corporation's motion for directed verdict. However, we conclude that the trial court did err in granting the individual owners' motion for directed verdict. Accordingly, the judgment of the trial court is affirmed in part, reversed in part and the case is remanded.

Opinion may be found at: