A 76-year-old woman lives in a tent on the property where she expected her new tiny home to be delivered and installed months ago.
She also lost $20,000, according to a civil lawsuit filed June 29 in Guam Superior Court.
She is one of three Guam residents who have raised concerns with the Consumer Protection Division of the Guam Attorney General’s Office, which has filed a civil lawsuit against Pacific Tiny Homes and its owner, Paul Vincent U Sablan.
The Consumer Protection Division alleges that Sablan violated the Consumer Protection Act on multiple fronts by failing to legitimately sell container homes, according to the AG’s office. The division asks the court to order the defendant to cease the illegal business practices, to reimburse the sums paid to consumers, to pay the fines and to pay the attorneys’ fees awarded.
There are seven counts alleging that the defendant: conducted business in Guam without obtaining a business license; sold container homes without a written contract; failed to deliver its product to certain consumers within a reasonable time; attempted to charge additional fees not previously agreed upon; refused to refund deposits; and failed to repair a defective small house, the AG’s office said in a news release.
According to its Facebook page, Pacific Tiny Homes offers three main models ranging from 160 to 320 square feet, with cost “as low as $63 per square foot installed and move-in ready.” The company notes that homes are built offsite and then delivered to the property, and financing assistance is available.
The 76-year-old first met Sablan and a Pacific Tiny Homes employee at her Yigo property on November 6, 2021, to inspect it for the potential location of a tiny home. She paid an initial down payment of $10,000 for a small 40 foot house.
A “deed of sale” was signed by Pacific Tiny Homes and the wife. He took note of his payment and his balance of $29,000. The woman “began to lose faith” in Pacific Tiny Homes, which had provided vague reasons for the delays. She tried to cancel her order but was told that her deposit money had been used to purchase materials. A Pacific Tiny Homes employee convinced her to reconsider the cancellation, adding that the company needed an additional $10,000, which she took out a loan for and paid on December 1, 2021.
“After her second payment, (the woman) left her apartment and moved into a tent on the property where she planned to place her small home,” the complaint states.
Several weeks later, the woman called a meeting. And on Jan. 29, the company employee who had met with her previously told her he was no longer employed and “disclosed that neither Paul Sablan nor (Pacific Tiny Homes) held a business license.” Sablan was not at the meeting, the complaint states.
The woman, at the time of the GA filing, was still living in the tent and had not heard from Sablan, the complaint states.
Another woman paid Pacific Tiny Homes $5,000 as a down payment on a modular home on March 13. She was interested in financing options announced by the company, but Sablan did not attend the meeting and her representative was unable to discuss financing, according to court documents. The woman was told that $5,000 would secure one of the two units already there.
Court documents say she received an invoice showing her payment, but no other documents or contracts. Later, when she asked for more information about the layout of the unit she thought she had booked, the “defendants declined to give details”. When she inquired about financing options, she was told to check out more banks herself.
On March 19, she asked for a refund and cancellation of the purchase, but was told that her money had been used to buy materials to build a unit. When she asked for proof, Sablan refused to show her proof and refused to reimburse her.
Another person said they received their home container, but it was “incomplete and there were numerous defects in and around the home container,” according to the press release.
On August 19, 2021, the man signed a contract to purchase a shipping container home for $25,000 to be delivered in September. The unit was supposed to include a one-year warranty on “all defects in workmanship or material”.
The house was delivered in November. The unit had shower fixtures that didn’t drain properly, the bathroom sink plumbing was poorly sealed and prone to leaks, and the electrical wiring was incomplete, according to the complaint. Additionally, the unit’s exterior paint was incomplete and the front door was “haphazardly constructed of cut plywood to fill in the gaps,” the complaint states.
Despite the one-year warranty, Pacific Tiny Homes did not fix any of the problems, according to the complaint. The container salesman also told the man that to fix the shower he had to buy a water booster tank for $8,000 and pay $1,500 to install it, the complaint states.
“In reality, all that was necessary to resolve this issue was to replace the light fixture,” the complaint states.
Assistant Attorney General Marinna N. Julian is handling the case, the OAG said in the statement.
Consumers who believe they have been scammed can contact the Consumer Protection Division at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 671-475-2720.