Are the Love It or List It homes staged? A lawsuit is drawing new attention to the show in the form of that ubiquitous question, thanks to a participant’s disputes regarding Love It or List It episode 152. The Love It or List It lawsuit, first reported by the Raleigh News Observer, was brought by Deena Murphy and Timothy Sullivan, a couple with experience in home renovations. The couple “turned to [the show] last year when they were considering renovating a rental property they had in Raleigh and moving into it with teenage foster children.”
However, Murphy and Sullivan claim that the show’s promised “big reveal” turned out to be a string of false problems and unexpected problems, all of which soured their Love It or List It experience and left them worse off than when they’d begun. (It sounds like co-hosts Hillary Farr and David Visentin are not named in the lawsuit.)
According to the Love It or List It Episode 152 lawsuit, “The show is scripted, with ‘roles’ and reactions assigned to the various performers and participants, including the homeowners.” Furthermore, says the suit, “These characters are actors or television personalities playing a role for the camera,” the lawsuit contends, “and in this case none of them played more than a casual role in the actual renovation process.”
One of the major points of contention involves Love It or List It contractor Eric Eremita, who is a native of New York and not licensed to work in North Carolina. Because of that, Big Coat TV, the company that produces the show, partnered up with a local contractor named Aaron Fitz. Murphy and Sullivan objected, citing “below average ratings they had seen for [Fitz’s] company on Angie’s List,” but were nonetheless required to “deposit” $140,000 with Big Coat, as a down payment on Fitz’s work.
The lawsuit states that $85,786.50 of the six-figure deposit was paid out, but the result was “disastrous work,” including a floor that was “irreparably damaged” and holes between the floor and duct work “through which vermin could enter the house.” Other complaints include “low-grade industrial carpeting, unpainted surfaces[,] and windows painted shut.”
At the same time the couple were forced to work with a local contractor who didn’t meet their standards, they say they “never were shown houses on the market by any North Carolina licensed real estate agent who had the ability to broker the sale of those homes,” and accuse Big Coat of using an unlicensed architect to come up with the show’s plans for the house.
Murphy and Sullivan allege that the show’s “bizarre” business model is also to blame: there is an “inherent conflict of interest,” they say, for a TV production company, most of whose revenue comes from advertising, to produce a show like Love It or List It. They’re accusing Big Coat of breach of contract and trade practices “in violation of North Carolina’s general contractor laws.”
Big Coat’s response was, in part, “We do intend to vigorously defend what we consider to be false allegations.”
In the meantime, you can catch new episodes of Love It or List It Monday nights at 9 PM on HGTV.
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(Photo credits: Are the Love It or List It homes staged via Facebook)