Outraged by reports of possible fraudulent practices in Manatee County by home builder KB Home, Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, has submitted a request to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi to launch an investigation og the California-based company.
Reports have surfaced regarding two whistle-blower lawsuits filed against KB Home by former employees. The lawsuits alleged KB Home was aware of structural defects in the Willowbrook condominium community in East Manatee prior to selling the units. KB Home released a statement on the matter, saying the allegations were unfounded, corrections were made and potential homeowners received notification of the problems.
Some homeowners said they were never notified of the defects.
“That struck a chord with me,” said Bennett, who will give up his Senate seat in November but is on the Nov. 6 ballot as the Republican candidate for Manatee County supervisor of elections “You’re telling me they had inside people that knew about these problems and they still did nothing?”
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One of the lawsuits stated KB Home tried to conceal defects in 50 to 60 Willowbrook town homes and that “substandard/inadequate materials” were used.
Bennett has met with residents of Willowbrook, who have battled with KB Home for years over structural defects linked to water intrusion and sinking floors on the second and third floor decks and interior floors, along with signs of mold.
Since Aug. 3, more than 70 balconies have been inspected inside the 272-unit community by Manatee County building inspectors at the request of residents. More than 30 have been ruled unsafe. The Willowbrook condos were KB Home’s first venture into Manatee County. KB Home began selling homes in Willowbrook in 2006.
“I don’t feel the people at Willowbrook are getting the answer they need and resolution they need,” Bennett said. “There are a lot of them out there. Their values are going down.”