Leak with Unlicensed Contractor - Paid Cash

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Latest post Tue, Jan 24 2017 4:41 PM by ca19lawyer2. 3 replies.
  • Tue, Jan 24 2017 11:20 AM

    • Hopefull2
      Consumer
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    • Joined on Fri, Oct 15 2004
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    Leak with Unlicensed Contractor - Paid Cash

    My mother allowed a friend of her neighbor to fix her roof. The guy charged her 5K and wanted it in cash. This was about a year ago. Now the roof is leaking and my mother's tenant who lives ont he top floor (of two floors) has lots of water damage. 

    My mother, who is very trusting, now is in sort of a bind. She has no way to prove that she paid this guy as she did this with cash. The guy is not even licensed. And we are sure he did a poor job which is causing this mess.

    She now has to call in a contractor to look at it.

    Can she sue the original person who completed the job? I was thinking that she should sue for the cost that it takes to fix this. 

    She's definitely learned her lesson to not do business worth that much without a trail.

    Please advise. Thank you 

  • Tue, Jan 24 2017 11:43 AM In reply to

    Re: Leak with Unlicensed Contractor - Paid Cash

    Hopefull2:
    Can she sue the original person who completed the job?

    Anyone can sue anyone for anything, but having the ability to sue has nothing to do with the validity of the claim.  If she expects to prevail against the person who did this work, she'll have to prove that the leaking was a result of his work and, just because he did the work and the roof leaked a year later does not necessarily mean he did the work negligently.

     

    Hopefull2:
    I was thinking that she should sue for the cost that it takes to fix this. 

    She's definitely learned her lesson to not do business worth that much without a trail.

    Another lesson to learn is to use appropriate professionals when the job calls for it.  She should speak with a local attorney for advice.

  • Tue, Jan 24 2017 3:36 PM In reply to

    Re: Leak with Unlicensed Contractor - Paid Cash

    First, a question:  Does your mother have homeowner's insurance on the home?  Whether she should file a claim depends on a few things, but she needs to decide quickly because if she waits very long to report what happened to her insurance company, it may refuse coverage.  She should read her policy ASAP.  I think she should probably file a claim and let the insurance company worry about suing the neighbor's friend.

     

    Hopefull2:
    Now the roof is leaking and my mother's tenant who lives ont he top floor (of two floors) has lots of water damage.

    Your mother is probably not financially responsible for the damage to the tenant's belongings.  I'm not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but I believe her having hired an unlicensed individual to repair her roof is not sufficient by itself to show she was negligent.

    Hopefull2:
    And we are sure he did a poor job which is causing this mess.

    Your feeling sure of that does not count.  Do you have evidence that is likely to convince a judge that the repair job was negligent and that the water damage resulted from that negligence?  Exactly what did this man do wrong?

    Hopefull2:
    She's definitely learned her lesson to not do business worth that much without a trail.

    Your mother's having paid in cash does not automatically mean she won't be able to convince the judge that this man did the work.  Did she tell the neighbor that she had hired his/her friend to fix her roof?  Even if that neighbor has since died or moved to Timbuktu, the roof guy would have to be an awfully good liar to pull off the lie that he never worked on her roof.

    Your mother may want to make an appointment with a lawyer in her state (the state where this home is located) for an opinion on both her possible negligence and that of the neighbor's friend.  But first I think she should make sure she knows exactly what happened, so in addition to getting her estimates for fixing the roof she should also ask for the contractors' opinions on what caused the leak.

    One final word of caution:  it is very possible that this man has spent her money and does not have enough attachable assets (or garnishable wages) to pay her even if she wins a judgment against him.  So if she can sue in small claims court without hiring a lawyer, that would probably be wise.

  • Tue, Jan 24 2017 4:41 PM In reply to

    Re: Leak with Unlicensed Contractor - Paid Cash

    karen2222:
    Your mother is probably not financially responsible for the damage to the tenant's belongings.  I'm not a lawyer so I could be wrong, but I believe her having hired an unlicensed individual to repair her roof is not sufficient by itself to show she was negligent.

    We don't know what state this happened in, but I wouldn't be at all confident about this.  Negligent hiring is often a basis for vicarious liability.

    Hopefully the OP's mother had an appropriate landlord's insurance policy that will provide liability coverage (another reason to make a timely report to the insurer).

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