HMH Top 7 - WSVN-TV - 7NEWS Miami Ft. Lauderdale News, Weather, Deco

HMH Top 7

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WSVN -- - WSVN -- Hello everybody, I'm Howard Finkelstein and I'm Patrick Fraser where we are wrapping up our 15th year of doing Help Me Howard.

Patrick Fraser: "We saw a lot of the same problems that have been bugging South Floridians year after year, but we also got complaints we never got when we started back in 1998.

Like at number seven, the Internet.

Whether it's Brittany who fell in love with a guy, sent him nude pictures of herself and when they broke up, he sent those pictures all over the internet.

To Yahoska, whose former employer demanded access to her personal e-mail account after she was let go. The internet is helping and hurting people."

Howard Finkelstein: "And the law can't always help because he can't keep pace with technology. The simple thing, assume everything you put on the internet is going to be seen by everybody and if you don't want everyone to see it, don't put it on the internet."

Patrick Fraser: "At number six, animals.

Whether it was an unwanted alligator in a back yard, peacocks that were destroying Lizzy's peace and quiet, to the battle over who owned this lost little puppy. Animals are always on the mind of many of us."

Howard Finkelstein: "At number five, people not getting paid what they are owed.

Kevin tutored kids, the agency hired by the state of Florida didn't pay him for his work. Mark builds beautiful waterfalls, a famous South Florida rapper left him dripping with frustration when he wouldn't pay him."

Patrick Fraser: "A well known South Florida women's basketball team played well, their team owner didn't pay them at all. Now Howard, working for free, no one can stand that."

Howard Finkelstein: "If you do work and don't get paid, that's illegal. To collect, you can file a complaint with the Labor Department or in Dade and Broward, file a complaint with their Consumer Protection Agency."

Patrick Fraser: "The fourth most common headache for South Floridians, landlords versus tenants. Some landlords are great, some are horrible. Andrea had roaches all over her apartment. Gus's landlord tried to charge him extra for a washer and dryer, even though the lease said they were included in the rent. And Donna and 17 other renters in Liberty City went weeks without hot water."

Howard Finkelstein: "Surprisingly tenants have a lot of right under the county, state and federal law. A apartment, has to meet 250 minimum standards. So if you live in a mess, call enforcement."

Patrick Fraser: "The third most common battle South Floridians face, dealing with businesses that they feel are ripping them off. Like James trying to collect a nearly $3,000 judgment against a repair shop that a judge ruled, ripped James off. Dorothy bought a headstone for her mothers grave, the company refused to deliver it till we got involved."

Howard Finkelstein: "We only hear about the bad businesses. Most are very good, which is why they are successful. Used businesses that have been around have a good reputation and pay with a credit card. In case there is a dispute, you have more protection."

Patrick Fraser: "The second most common problem we hear about, associations and Howard this year I saw more associations and their management companies do things that were wrong. And when they got caught, they tried to ignore us.

Like the homeowners association that wanted residents to agree to be fined $1,000 if their recycling cart was in the wrong place. If they wouldn't agree, they could not recycle. The condo association that refused to allow Giraldo's girlfriend to stay in his home while she helped him recover from a kidney transplant, a kidney she donated to him."

Howard Finkelstein: "If you have a problem, file a complaint with the state condo ombudsman or the Department of Professional Regulation. Another solution if you have a bad board, get on the board and fix things from the inside."

Patrick Fraser: "And the most common complaint in 2013, battling the government. Whether it was Max who got ripped off by a parking meter and the city wouldn't return his money. To Sherri, who the city tried to force to break a contract with the garbage company she liked to sign a new deal with the garbage company the city liked."

Howard Finkelstein: "Some quick solutions when battling with the bureaucracy, go up the chain of command, send letters, faxes and e-mails and make sure every bureaucrat and elected official knows about your problem. In other words, be the squeaky wheel."

Patrick Fraser: "And Howard, I've noticed a big change in government agencies over the years. Yes they make mistakes, but when we contact them, if they are wrong, most government agencies are happy to fix the mistake. In the past, they were hard to move.

Howard Finkelstein: "Well they do work for the taxpayers, so that's only appropriate."

Patrick Fraser: "As we head into 2014, you will probably have some roadblocks you can't resolve and as we have been for the past 15 years, we plan to be here for the 16th year. To help you. With Mr. Finkelstein, I'm Patrick Fraser 7News."

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