Two years ago, the INDY
broke the story
of how Texas-based developer D.R. Horton and its energy company spinoff surreptitiously retained the mineral rights on land it sold to hundreds homeowners in the Triangle and the state.
The N.C. Attorney General's office subsequently intervened and D.R. Horton returned those rights to 700 homeowners.
It turns out D.R. Horton got busted for the same practice in Florida this week
, according to The Palm Beach Post
. Homeowners had no idea they had signed their mineral rights away; the language in the contract often vague and buried in the hundreds of pages of legal documents. Many homeowners, including those in the Triangle, say the builder's sales representatives don't discuss the mineral rights clause, or if they do, not until closing.
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The company has agreed to stop the practice until Florida lawmakers address the issue, or until Jan. 1, 2015. In fact, this is a common practice for developers, according to Reuters
In North Carolina, property owners were concerned because the contracts allowed DRH Energy to frack under their land and to keep the proceeds. In addition, many banks and mortgage companies will not finance properties if the buyer does not retain the mineral rights.
This year, state lawmakers are expected to craft legislation about the issue of mineral rights—and property rights in general—related to fracking.