UNREGISTERED HOME BUILDER CHARGED
Attorney General J. Joseph Curran, Jr. announced today that his Consumer Protection Division has issued a cease and desist order against a home builder who it alleges took money from a customer to build a custom home but never completed construction, and who is not registered as a home builder with the state, as required.
According to the charges, William Middleton, who does business as Middleton General Contracting of Camden, Delaware, agreed in July 2000 to construct a house for Mubasher Ahmad on property Ahmad owns in Towson, for $71,000. The house was supposed to be completed within three months. However, Middleton still had not completed the house by February 2001, when he stopped working on the house. By that time Ahmad had paid a total of $56,847 in deposits and progress payments. Middleton would neither complete construction of the house nor refund any of the money paid by Ahmad. In April 2001, the Baltimore County Department of Permits and Development Management determined the structural work done by Middleton to be faulty and issued a stop work order. The consumer had to pay an additional $24,000 to repair the faulty work done by Middleton and other monies to hire outside subcontractors to finish the house.
The Division alleges that Middleton violated the Maryland Custom Home Protection Act by failing to place Ahmads initial deposit of $10,000 into an escrow account or having a surety bond to cover the deposit, that he violated the Maryland Home Builder Registration Act by acting as a home builder without being registered with the Home Builder Registration Unit of the Consumer Protection Division, and that he violated the Consumer Protection Act by failing to build the house as promised.
The Divisions ex parte cease and desist order immediately bars Middleton from acting or offering to act as a home builder in the State of Maryland. At a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearing, the Division will ask for a final cease and desist order, as well as an order requiring Middleton to pay Ahmad $56,847 in restitution and restitution to any other consumers who have been harmed by unlawful practices. Also, the Division will seek a $1,000 civil penalty per day of unlawful practice and the costs of the investigation.
The public hearing on the charges will be scheduled by and held at the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings, 11101 Gilroy Road, in Hunt Valley. Consumers who have had problems with William Middleton or Middleton General Contracting are encouraged to call the Home Builder Registration Unit immediately at (410) 576-6573 or toll-free 1-877-259-4525.