Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Legal Loss
An elderly woman learning the hard way get into a dispute with a contractor and it could cost you your home. Investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Seventy-six-year-old Sarah Poitier has lived in the same home for 50 years, but she could lose it because of a dispute over roof repairs.
Sarah Poitier: "I got the house when my mother died. I raised my children, my family and I don't know where to go."
Her belongings are boxed up because she fears a roofing company may soon put her on the street.
Sarah Poitier: "But he plans to put me out of the house if he can do this."
Sarah hired a roofing company back in 2006 after hurricane Wilma damaged her home. She signed this contract, paid $26,000 for the job, and was happy with the results.
Sarah Poitier: "About a year later I received this letter to go to court."
The company claimed she did not pay the full amount, that she owed almost $9,000 more for extra wood. She thought they were wrong, so ignored the letter and did nothing. Big mistake.
Johnny Gaspard, Attorney: "In Miami-Dade County and throughout the State of Florida, if someone does any work on your home or let's say on your vehicle or something of that nature, and you don't pay them, they get a lien against your property."
Her attorney Johnny Gaspard came into the case too late to help. He says because Sarah did not respond to the notice within 20 days, the court ruled everything the roofing company stated was true.
Johnny Gaspard: "By the time she reacted or took to the point that she needed to, there was already a potential sale of her property."
The home was then bought by the same construction company.
Johnny Gaspard: "They ended up purchasing it at the sale themselves for about $500."
Sarah Poitier: "Being old, I guess I didn't keep up with it."
Poitier did contact the company trying to get her house back.
Sarah Poitier: "He wanted me to give him $50,000 to get the house back in my name."
But she refused to do that. The roofing company would not talk to us but it's lawyer told us on the phone: "Nothing improper was done. This matter worked its way through the court process. Ms. Poitier had the opportunity to defend the claim."
Sarah Poitier: "I tried to accept whatever is going on, but its been very emotional. I do pray a lot, so that has kept me going."
Carmel Cafiero: For now, Poitier is still In the house, but there's a hearing later this month and the roofing company wants the court to order her out."
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