Dec 10 D.R. Horton Inc is temporarily
suspending its practice of reserving mineral rights beneath new
homes it sells in Florida, according to a letter from the
company to the office of the Florida Attorney General.
D.R. Horton, the largest U.S. homebuilder, also said it
would offer to return to Florida homeowners mineral rights that
it had kept in the past, according to the letter, which was sent
The company said in the letter that it would revisit the
mineral rights issue by Jan. 1, 2015 or when the Florida
legislature considers it - whichever comes first.
"We appreciate D.R. Horton's response and are pleased that
property owners will have the opportunity to have their mineral
rights restored," said Whitney Ray, press secretary for Florida
Attorney General Pam Bondi.
D.R. Horton did not respond to requests for comment.
The move comes after an Oct. 9 Reuters story that revealed
how homebuilders across America - including D.R. Horton, Ryland
Group Inc, Beazer Homes USA Inc and PulteGroup
Inc - had been hoarding mineral rights under new homes
just as the United States was undergoing the biggest energy boom
in recent times. Mineral rights set up the holder of the rights
for financial gain when energy companies come calling.
Some homeowners said they were unaware when they bought
their homes that they were only getting what was on top of their
land and not the oil, natural gas, gold, water and other natural
resources that lie below.
The Reuters story reviewed county property records in 25
states. In Florida alone, D.R. Horton has kept the mineral
rights beneath more than 10,000 lots.
A month after the Reuters story, the Tampa Bay Times ran a
similar story about D.R. Horton. The Florida Attorney General
then met with the company on Nov. 20 to discuss the issue.
In the letter to the office of the Florida Attorney General
on Friday, D.R. Horton said it would send letters to all
affected homeowners, offering to return the rights by Jan. 31,
Last year, D.R. Horton made a similar move in North
Carolina, where a group of homeowners contacted the state
Attorney General's office after they discovered that they had
unwittingly signed away their mineral rights when they bought
their homes - just as the state was about to open its doors to
As part of an inquiry into the matter, the North Carolina
Department of Justice sent a letter to D.R. Horton on April 12,
2012, asking for "a description of all oral and written
disclosures made to home buyers," as well as the forms to back
D.R. Horton said at the time that it intended "for its home
buyers to be fully aware that the mineral rights under their lot
have been severed and retained."
It said it instructed sales agents to disclose the
reservations prior to signing a contract. It also said it
disclosed them in the deed, title and sales contract.
A copy of a sales contract, reviewed by Reuters, showed it
has a clause giving D.R. Horton "all geothermal energy and
resources" located "on, in or under the lot."
"I think it is really nice that D.R. Horton is going to
become a responsible dealer in real estate, and I would love to
have my mineral rights back," said Alan Huerth, a homeowner at
the Valencia Golf and Country Club in Naples, Florida and
treasurer of its homeowners' association. Huerth bought a
three-bedroom, two-bathroom home from D.R. Horton in December
2011. He says he never realized that the company had severed his
"It didn't even cross my mind."