Hernando home sellers collected sinkhole claim, didn’t fix home and then sold house to unsuspecting family

by Michael Mosher on September 5, 2014

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HERNANDO COUNTY, FL (WFLA) –

Kelly Magbee and Thomas Jaje bought a four-bedroom home in Spring Hill in March. It took them three years to find a home that was affordable, yet large enough for their five children.

The home, at 6281 Kimball Ct. seemed perfect.

“We were so happy,” Magbee said. “This house has everything we need., and it was affordable enough that I could stay home with the children.”

But just a few weeks after they settled in, they learned they live on top of a sinkhole. Citizens Property Insurance issued the family an insurance policy but discovered their mistake after the family already purchased the home and moved it. Citizens didn’t call the family with any details. Instead, Citizens sent a cancellation letter informing them their policy would be canceled because of a previously discovered sinkhole that had not yet been repaired.

When Magbee called with questions, she discovered paperwork that shows that the previous homeowners, Glenn and Kathryn Jasen, were paid $153,745 for a sinkhole claim in January 2009 by Citizens.

But none of the real estate professionals hired to help execute the sale caught the sinkhole claim, or disclosed it.

“We did our homework, they were supposed to do theirs,” Magbee said. “We went through a title company. We had multiple inspections.”

There aren’t any visible signs of a sinkhole. Magbee noticed a few cracks in the ceiling and one crack in the stucco, but those were easily explained away by inspectors as settlement cracks, she said.

But what about the sinkhole settlement and the check cashed by the previous homeowners? They are required by law to disclose the sinkhole. The real estate disclosure forms they signed at closing even asks about sinkholes. There are several questions, all phrased differently, about sinkholes, settlement issues or sinkhole claims. The Jasens answered “no” to every single question.

When asked by a reporter about he sinkhole, Glenn Jasen at first said he had no idea there was a sinkhole or a sinkhole claim. But when asked about the settlement check, he referred questions to his attorney, Alfred Torrence. Torrence declined to comment.

Records show the Jasens did not use their settlement money to fix the sinkhole. Instead, they now live down the street, at 6110 Kimball Ct. Public records show no permits were ever pulled on the sinkhole home, but multiple permits were pulled in 2012 to do major renovations to their waterfront home. They put in a new kitchen, counter tops, a new bathtub, stucco work, electric work, a new concrete slab, among other work, according to the Pasco County Property Appraiser’s Office.

After repeated questions from 8 On Your Side, Citizens took a closer look at this case and changed their decision. Citizens spokesman Michael Peltier released this statement:

“After reviewing the facts in this particular case, we have determined to reinstate homeowners coverage for the property once premiums are paid. The coverage will not include optional sinkhole endorsements and cannot until necessary repairs are made as directed by a qualified engineer. We will send out a notice to the policyholder and their agent.”

A regular homeowner’s insurance policy would cover major damage, such as the house falling into a hole, the way others have in Tampa Bay in recent years. But without a separate sinkhole policy, Citizens would not pay to stabilize the house to prevent damage from the sinkhole.Peltier said several mistakes were made. Citizens and the engineering firm that confirmed the sinkhole in 2009 and the Jasens should all have reported the sinkhole to the Hernando County Clerk’s office.

Both Citizens and the new homeowners are looking into legal options against the Jasens.

Full article….here

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