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INDIANAPOLIS — In a case one top official called a “classic case of consumer protection,” one homeowner’s discovery led to payments for dozens of neighbors.

According to the case, filed by the Indiana Attorney General’s Office in Marion Superior Court, builder M/I Homes failed to disclose sewer covenants to around 80 homebuyers. The covenants, entered into with the city of Lawrence, shifted responsibility away from the city if sewers backed up into people’s homes.

“It’s something that the homeowner can agree to, but they’ve got to know about it first,” Director of Consumer Protection Scott Barnhart said.

M/I Homes agreed to pay 41 homeowners either $1,000 or $5,000 each and install pumps in homes if a homeowner allowed it.

In this case, one homeowner’s lawsuit and complaint against the builder launched the investigation. In court paperwork, the homeowner alleges “the sanitary sewer system in the home began backing up through the shower drain and toilets on the first floor.” That homeowner described finding the sewer covenant in a pile of paperwork received through a public records request to the city of Lawrence. When they alerted Barnhart’s office, a team began investigating.

“Consumer protection in our office serves a very important function of going after companies and businesses on a scale that individuals could not or should not do on their own,” Barnhart said.

Barnhart wants both homebuyers and consumers in general to take note of this case and file a complaint against a company if you can’t work out a dispute. You can do that at the link here.

If you’re buying a home, Barnhart suggested asking about covenants and never being afraid to ask questions about anything before you decide to buy.

“A home is one of the largest purchases that we make as a consumer, so it is very important to have all the pertinent, important information up front to make sure that … you’re getting what you paid for,” Barnhart said.

M/I Homes did not return calls or emails asking for comment. The homeowner’s individual lawsuit against the company remains pending.