Defunct Wny Home Builder To Refund Consumer Payments
- Attorney General Spitzer today announced that his office successfully obtained restitution from a Western New York home builder that abruptly closed down and left its customers with unfinished homes.
"The purchase and construction of a new home is one of the greatest aspirations of many consumers," Spitzer said. "This home contracting company turned a significant milestone in a person's life into a nightmare of missed deadlines, broken promises and missing deposits."
Spitzer's office alleged that the owners of Renaissance Homes II, Inc., Henry G. Kleinfelder, Jr. and David Schoening, violated a state law that requires funds received from consumers for new home construction to be placed in a trust account and used solely for the purposes for which the money was paid.
After accepting significant up-front payments, Renaissance Homes - an up-scale Erie County custom home builder - ceased operations in the fall of 1999, leaving some customers with unfinished homes. Because the home contracting company failed to comply with laws enacted to protect against lost deposits, its customers' money was gone.
Spitzer's office then commenced an investigation and acted to ensure that refunds would be provided to consumers. After the investigation by Spitzer's office, the owners of Renaissance Homes II, Inc. agreed to pay $75,000 in restitution to consumers and $1,000 in costs. Spitzer's office expressed satisfaction with the restitution.
"Restitution for consumers from defunct companies is particularly difficult to obtain because there may be no assets and the company is often headed toward bankruptcy. My office is pleased to get at least some of the consumer payments returned," Spitzer said.
The settlement also permanently bars Kleinfelder and Schoening from operating as either a home contractor or a home improvement company in New York State.
Individuals wishing to file a complaint against Renaissance Homes or any other home contractor are encouraged to contact the Attorney General's consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or go to his website at www.ag.ny.gov.
This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General James Morrissey of the Buffalo Regional Office.