SOUTH FULTON, Ga. — A South Fulton woman is learning the hard way that what a developer promises you does not matter as much as what is in writing.
“I was told that it was all of my property,” Janel Greene told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Justin Gray, as she showed him her fenced-in backyard.
Before building a privacy fence in the new construction development, Greene says she walked the proposed fence line with the developer, Century Communities’ local builder, just like she had before buying the home.
“He told me that it was OK, and it wasn’t going to be a problem at all,” Greene said. “I thought I had proper permission because if the builder from Century Communities can’t give you permission, who can?”
Now, Century Communities is ordering Greene to tear down the $12,000 fence and fining her $25 for each day it remains.
They say she built over her property line by several feet on common property for the development.
Century Communities showed Channel 2 Action News the signed property line map and the signed contract Greene agreed to.
A Century Communities spokesman told us in a statement, saying:
“Per the contract she signed with Century Communities in 2020, absolutely no verbal commitments are enforceable. Everything we do, and everything she asks for and is given as a result of her buying the home, must be in writing, period.”
“I asked for clarification because I don’t know how to read that grid. So, I asked for clarification and he walked it, and he said, ‘Yes, this is it; this is yours,’” Greene said.
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But our Channel 2 consumer advisor Clark Howard said consumers need to know that a signed contract supersedes any verbal promise.
“Anything verbal said to you doesn’t mean anything; in fact, the Georgia Supreme Court ruled even a brochure that promises something is not relevant,” Howard said.
Green has offered money for the small strip of land and offered to pay part of the costs to redraw the property line, but Century Communities says that’s not possible. Telling us in a statement: “We cannot just move a property line at will. It is illegal to do so without proper approvals and is not a simple process.”
The advice from Howard is to bring in an attorney before signing a real estate contract.
“When you’re buying something as expensive as a home, it’s really a good idea before you sign to pay a lawyer to review what you are agreeing to,” Howard said.
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