Deadbeat Homeowner

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---------------------------------------------------------------------- A friend of mine contracted with a homeowner to perform specific work over to be completed by September 29th. The pay was to be $6000. He was paid $1500 to start and just about finished the work when the homeowner made some excuses and fired him without any additonal pay. What a scumbag. My buddy has about 1 day of work left until he should deserve the balance of the contract but because the work is not done the homeowner claims that he doesn't have to pay.
I told my friend to both hand deliver and send a certified letter stating that he wants access to the property to finish the contracted work or else the full balance of the contract is due.
- Has anyone ever been in this situation ? - Do you think my advice is good ? - If he does send the letter it should probably sound as professional as possible. - Is there a standard letter that he should use to notify the homeowner ? - I tried googling and didn't come up with anything.
Thanks, Curt
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He could file a lean, but there are three sides to every story. Yours, his, and the correct side.
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Actually, a "lien". Might require a lawyer. Doesn't mean he'll get paid, but, the house can't be sold (or probably even refinanced) as long as the lien exists. For the homeowner to remove the he'll have to go to court and convince a judge to lift it (highly unlikely). Going through the motions with a lien will probably lead to a settlement offer.
S
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But the greater question is why was this guy fired? So he didnt have to pay, but the job is half finished. There is a big part missing from the story.
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Ok, my friend contracted with the wife of the house because her regular sub contractor was working for someone else and wasn't available at the time to do her job. What happened, is that the other sub came available and the husband wanted to use him instead so he told the wife to get rid of my buddy. My friend had been doing good work up until that point and had never even met the husband. The wife apologized and only said, "sorry".
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Stick it to the pompous bastard. Worse yet, he's hiding behind his wife. Request an apology and demand the balance in full. No dice, do the lien thing. Do all this yesterday, if not sooner.
--
Jonny



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There was a recent discussion on Fine Homebuilding about why you never contract to do work with only one spouse.
Steve.
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snipped-for-privacy@sbcglobal.net says...

My son runs a small construction business and sometimes he gets in these situations. He gives the homeowner a last chance to make things right. If they don't, he tears out the work he did, making sure to leave enough so that what he got paid is fair payment for the work done. Unfortunately, many people try to take advaantage of a small businessman. Yah gotta be tough.
-- Dennis
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DT wrote:

And what happens if they don't let him on the property?
R
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says...

This is a criminal act however. Follow the correct channels, I think the OP should use every available civil means to stick it to this guy.
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Yes, I definitely cannot advise my friend to do that.
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Licensed ? if not this could rule him out of payment Permitted ? If he worked without a permit if required this may also rule him out of payment Homeowner may have been unjustly enrichened by his work a lien or lawsuit should follow - if his work is done properly and as complete as possible. In any case a lawyer or a baseball bat would be his next step. Or he could just walk away and chalk it up to experience.
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Absent licenses or permits, the contract is still valid. The contractor would be liable for those, not the homeowner. The homeowner is responsible for paying the contractor for the work already performed. He's thinking that because the contractor is now terminated, he's off the hook. The contractor can only remedy the situation by court action, or at least the threat of through an attoney.
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That's why there's laws, lawyers and courts. You do a job in Florida without the proper license and the homeowner owes you $0. And that's the law - period. Other states may have similar laws, some may not. And I'm sure there is more education coming to this "contractor"
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And most places, the inspector would shut the job down if the permit was not posted in a highly visible manner. Whoever is legally responsible, is of no consequence regarding that decision by the inspector. The contractor is the losing party as well. Most contractors get the applicable permits to perform the work. Some even put that in the contract. Assumptions (unwritten) of this are the person's responsibility who made the contractual agreement with the contractor. Ultimately, the person owning the property is the one who will assume financial responsibility and legal recourse.
--
Jonny



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here - in FL- the person/company that pulls the permit is responsible for the job. Allot of unlicensed people talk the homeowner into pulling the permit so they can work illegally and have no responsibility for the job.
I imagine that people that move here that lived where the homeowner pulled the permit get fooled into permitting work for unlicensed workers
It is also against the law for homeowners to hire unlicensed workers
Most permitting in my area takes days or weeks, commercial work requiring drainage and extensive site work require engineering and may take 6 months. I know in the Keys it takes years to permit new construction, as in other parts of the country's heavily populated areas I understand that the process is also years.
Under those circumstances I can see the homeowner pursuing the permit either on their own or with an engineer and then finding a contractor, since I wouldn't spend years working with someone to permit a job before starting work.
I'm sure every area has different circumstances to deal with and since the OP never stated where they are located they will only get answers by those referring to their local experiences and will probably be of little help to the OP anyway. Butt then again I learned something new today
kickstart
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The homeowner could be liable for the entire balance due, especially if he denied entry to the original contractor and had someone else do the work.
S
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What are the contract stipulations pertaining to performance and/or breach?
Until that is known, any advice as to his response would be highly speculative at best.
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Take the jerk to court. The homeowner signed a valid contract and thinks he has the upper hand by firing the contractor. The contractor should send the homeowner an itemized invoice for all the work perormed first though.
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