Oakland condo buyers may have little protection after construction fire destroys building

OAKLAND, Calif. (KGO) -- The news may be bad all around for buyers of Ice House in West Oakland. Not only have many lost the homes they expected to move into, they may have little consumer protection.

The hazy skies provide a grim backdrop for what's already a gloomy situation for 52 buyers of condominiums at Ice House in West Oakland.

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Forty of them expected to be in their homes by Christmas.

Now instead of putting the finishing touches on their homes, City Ventures will have to destroy the burned condos and rebuild from scratch.

CEO Phil Kerr vowed his company will continue the rebuilding process and work with the city to provide valuable housing units.

As for the buyers, they will have to wait and see.

"All their lives have been affected," said Kerr. "We'll be working very closely with each of those homeowners and we'll also be working to continue the construction on the backside of the project."

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We tried to follow up the news conference with more specific questions about how this fire will impact the buyers.

We went to the sales office of Ice House, which is located on the site of two other City Ventures projects, Station House and Station House South.

However, a sales manager said the situation was still too raw for the company to comment any further.

CEO Phil Kerr did not return our text or messages.

"Ugh, it's a terrible place to be if you're the buyer of one of these units," said Joe Ridout of Consumer Action.

He told me these types of contracts are often written to protect the developer, not the buyers.

They often contain a clause that allows a refund of your deposit if you are not moved in by a certain date, but then there can be exceptions.

"These contracts also have something called the Force Majeure Clause, which states in the event of fire or floods or other things, like terrorism, that they can stretch the date out beyond the outside date and you would not have any recourse."

If you're one of the buyers impacted by this fire, I want to hear from you. Contact me here or through my Facebook page.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.
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