WASHINGTON, DC – Attorney General Brian L. Schwalb today filed a lawsuit against Curbio, Inc. (Curbio), which markets itself as a pre-sale home renovation company that allows homeowners to defer payment until their homes are sold. The lawsuit alleges Curbio engages in a scheme of deception, intimidation, and fraud that traps District residents—targeting the elderly and financially disadvantaged—into unconscionable contracts, while performing overpriced, substandard work that often takes months—or years—longer than promised.
The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) alleges that Curbio’s business practices violate the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act and the District’s Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act. The complaint seeks to permanently prevent Curbio’s fraud, misrepresentations, and illegal exploitation of District residents and to recover financial penalties and monetary damages as compensation for the harm Curbio’s illegal practices have caused.
“For many Washingtonians, especially long-term residents, their homes are their primary asset and, thus, primary source of financial stability,” said AG Schwalb. “Recognizing the financial significance the sale of the family home can have for District residents, Curbio targets elderly residents with an unconscionable scheme that lures them in with false promises of quick, high-quality renovations promised to generate heightened sales prices. In reality, Curbio traps consumers with exploitative contracts that threaten them with financial ruin. From its marketing, to its contracts, to its filing of liens against title, to its renovation work itself, to its unauthorized and exploitive lending practices, every aspect of Curbio’s business model is designed to line its pockets by taking advantage of District homeowners. My office will continue to use the full force of the law to protect District residents from predatory practices and ensure homeowners are compensated for the financial harm Curbio imposed.”
“To say my experience with Curbio was bad is an understatement. With the project delays, unfinished or improperly finished work, inflated prices, and general lack of concern for anything but squeezing every penny from you for subpar work; they turned my family’s dream of moving to our new home into a nightmare,” said District homeowner Dr. Danielle Siler Tyler. “I would like to thank the Attorney General for standing up for the victims of this predatory company and holding them accountable for the devastating impact they have had on our lives.”
“As a first-time home buyer in the District, I was excited with my purchase of what I thought was a turnkey home,” said District homeowner Khalid Naji-Allah. “To my surprise the contractor (Curbio) who was tasked with the complete renovation of my home failed me and the seller of the home. It only took my family a few months after closing to uncover the shoddy work Curbio did. I spent hundreds of dollars trying to repair their mistakes. I am thankful that the Attorney General's office is pursuing justice for those affected and effected by this fraudulent company.”
OAG’s Investigation of Curbio
Curbio, a DMV-based company that offers services nationwide, markets itself as a pre-sale home renovation company that can fix-up run-down properties 65% faster than the competition based on its claim that “Curbio’s proprietary tech platform accelerates every step of the renovation.” Curbio claims the average return-on-investment is more than 200% and that homes renovated by Curbio sell 50% faster than homes sold as-is. One of the primary benefits Curbio touts is that homeowners can defer payment to Curbio until the house is sold or for up to a year.
In reality, Curbio utilizes a collection of low-cost subcontractors to deliver over-priced, low-quality renovations and then encumbers the home with deeds of trust or liens, trapping homeowners who are trying to sell and move out of their homes quickly.
When Curbio’s allegedly “rigorously vetted” subcontractors fail to deliver, Curbio’s contract also prevents homeowners from taking the necessary steps to mitigate the harm: they are forbidden from doing the work themselves, prevented from borrowing money against their equity to hire more qualified contractors, and prevented from canceling the Curbio contract without paying exorbitant fees and penalties. Over the course of the contract, Curbio often advances money to cover what Curbio terms “passthrough” expenses—mortgage payments, rent, and the cost of third-party home improvements not arranged by Curbio. In exchange for this deferred payment, Curbio charges the homeowner an additional 20% in undisclosed interest. Curbio does not have any lending licenses in the District, nor does it comply with any of the District’s lending disclosure laws.
- An 86-year-old homeowner and her grandson entered into a $57,640 contract for work that Curbio estimated would be completed in 45 days. More than three months over schedule, Curbio first claimed the work was complete, and Curbio continually rebuffed the homeowners’ complaints that much of the work remained incomplete or was done poorly. The elderly homeowner was so distraught she wrote to Curbio that “This situation has to end before my daily worry over it and the stress over it for months and months cause me to have a heart attack which could cause my death.” Another three months later, Curbio recorded a mechanic’s lien against the property and secured the full contract amount for its work, despite being more than 200% over schedule and the homeowners’ contention that some of the work was never completed.
- A 74-year-old homeowner entered into a $136,267 contract for work to be completed in an estimated 126 days, or approximately four months. And yet, nine months after executing the contract, and after several communications to Curbio about lack of progress, the homeowner’s son—who had power of attorney—sent Curbio a list of numerous workmanship and permitting issues and noted that Curbio’s own app showed the project at just 4% complete. Rather than address these concerns, Curbio threatened to “terminate the Contract for cause and accelerate due all amounts outstanding” because it claimed the son was interfering in the contract.
- A homeowner in Northeast DC contracted with Curbio for $197,744 for work to be completed in an estimated 14 weeks. Within the first 22 weeks, Curbio had only accomplished a partial demolition of the home, which had rendered it uninhabitable and unsellable. Over the course of two and a half years, Curbio has required the homeowner to sign multiple change orders, adding tens of thousands of dollars to the project’s cost. One such order from August 2022 notes that roof repairs were made by a roofer arranged by the homeowner’s real estate agent. Though Curbio had little involvement in this repair, it added a 20% “admin fee” to the roofers’ costs in exchange for deferring payment. As of the date of this complaint, there is no indication in Curbio’s app that this project is complete, and the house has still not been listed for sale.
In this lawsuit, OAG alleges that Curbio:
- Lied to consumers by misrepresenting nearly every aspect of its work, including:
- Lack of risk;
- Absence of fees or interest;
- Average return on investment;
- Decreased time on market;
- Rigorous vetting of its subcontractors;
- Timeliness of its work relative to other contractors;
- Time required to complete specific projects; and
- The competitive nature of its pricing.
- Deceived and stole from District residents—targeting the elderly—by:
- Targeting elderly customers in the District through a network of associated real estate agents, some of whom received undisclosed incentive compensation for facilitating Curbio contracts;
- Misrepresenting competitive pricing, and low-balling the expected duration of renovation projects, all while greatly exaggerating the likely return on investment; and
- Threatening to enforce certain unconscionable contract provisions in an effort to intimidate customers and coerce them into taking actions that were against their financial interests.
All of this conduct violates the District’s Consumer Protection Procedures Act, and for the significant portion of Curbio’s customers that are elderly or vulnerable, it also violates the District’s Abuse, Neglect, and Financial Exploitation of Vulnerable Adults and the Elderly Act.
The full complaint is available here.
This matter is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Jason Jones and Monique Gudger and Chief Alicia M. Lendon of the Civil Rights & Elder Justice Section.
Resources for District Residents
Elder financial abuse is all too common, and largely underreported. It happens to people across all socio- economic backgrounds and can be perpetrated by anyone having a connection to the senior resident, whether through a family, personal, or business relationship. Elders or vulnerable adults may be hesitant to report abuse because of fear of retaliation or lack of physical or cognitive ability to report the abuse, or because they do not want to get the alleged abuser in trouble.
Resources to help residents learn how to detect, prevent, and report abuse of the elderly or vulnerable adults are available here.
If you are experiencing abuse, neglect, or exploitation or know a District senior or vulnerable adult who is, immediately get help by:
- Filing a report with Adult Protective Services (APS) by calling the 24-hour hotline at (202) 541-3950
- Filing a police report with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) by calling the police at (202) 265-9100
- Contacting OAG’s Civil Rights and Elder Justice Section at (202) 727-3807 or firstname.lastname@example.org
To report unfair business practices, scams, or fraud, you can contact OAG by:
- Submitting a consumer complaint online at: https://oag.dc.gov/consumer-protection/submit-consumer-complaint
- Calling the OAG Consumer Hotline at (202) 442-9828
- Emailing email@example.com
Visit OAG’s website to learn more about the office’s work to protect DC consumers.