Wednesday, September 6, 2006
Help Me Howard: Roof
In the last few days some areas in South Florida have received more than a foot of rain, and Help Me Howard has gotten more than a hundred complaints about roofers. Howard has some legal advice for those caught mopping up a lot of water. Here's the Night Team's Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- It is the rainy season -- the hurricane season -- and, for the people in South Florida with leaky roofs, the misery season.
Natanyah Menna: "It's just getting worse and worse."
Natanyah Menna didn't think she would still be worried about her roof. After all, she hired a company back in March to replace her bad roof.
Natanyah Menna: "What happened was it started raining, and the ceiling in the kitchen started leaking really bad."
She waited and waited for the roof to be replaced, every once in a while calling the roofers to ask the same question: "When are you coming out?"
Natanyah Menna: "And they said they couldn't come out for another sixteen weeks, and I said, 'What am I supposed to do, sit here with all this rain in my kitchen?'"
The roofers, of course, hear that complaint all day, everyday. But Natanyah wasn't going to put up with it.
Natanyah Menna: "They said, 'There is nothing we can tell you.' Uh, well, I was canceling it."
Natanyah had signed a contract but had not given the roofers a deposit.
She says that they told her, in that case, she could cancel the deal. She did and found a cousin to do the job.
Natanyah Menna: "Three weeks ago I had a new roof that I did myself with my cousin 'cause he's a roofer in Port St. Lucie. We did the roofs ourself."
She was nice and dry and happy.
Then went out of town.
Natanyah Menna: "I came back from being in New York for the July Fourth weekend and the brand new roof that we had did was gone. Completely gone."
She called the roofer to ask how they could tear off a brand new roof. Basically, they said their crew tears off the roof, they don't analyze it.
Natanyah Menna: "Any person who is a contractor, in the roofing industry would know that that is brand new tar paper, that's not even three weeks old -- that tar paper that they ripped off."
And then they told her they had a right to do it since she never really canceled her contract in writing.
Natanyah Menna: "They told me that they are not going to do anything for free, and they are not going to put a brand new roof on for me. So, I have to pay out of pocket to go ahead and get another roof on."
Or does she? To find out, Natanyah called Help Me Howard.
Howard Finkelstein: "Natanyah had a right to cancel the contract because the roof could not be done in a reasonable amount of time. In some cases, you can cancel a written contract over the phone. However, Natanyah's contract has a clause that says it has to be in writing, and to avoid any confusion; that is usually the best way to do it: in writing."
When we talked to the roofing company, they told us since they have already torn off her new roof and put down new tar paper, they have agreed to not charge her for that if she releases them from the permit.
But that means Natanyah has to pay for the new shingles again at a cost of anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000.
Howard says that's a decision that only she can make.
Howard Finkelstein: "Natanyah could sue them to pay for the new shingles. She might win and she might not. In addition, a judge could force her to pay the roofers for tearing off her roof. Bottom line, sometimes it's better to cut your loses and take a sure thing rather than risk losing."
Natanyah is not sure yet what she will do. But she is certain, what happened to her is not fair.
Natanyah Menna: "Because this is crazy, this is ridiculous. I feel because I'm a young girl, and because I live here by myself, I was taken advantage of."
Patrick Fraser: "Now as you might suspect, with the tropical storm we are getting a lot of complaints about roofs and hurricane shutters. People who cannot get the contractors to finish or even start the job. Howard says the best thing to do is send them a certified letter giving them a specific date to complete the work or be declared in breach of contract. Also let them know you may sue for any additional costs you incur as a result of their breach. And, if you have not signed the contract yet, put a date for completion to avoid the problem."
Problems pouring in on you? Need someone to storm to your side? Contact us. Legally, we will create a waterproof solution.
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