With a shortage of contractors and lots of repairs after Irma, it may be tempting to hire whoever you can find to fix your house. However, be aware of scammers posed as licensed contractors willing to do repairs and construction. The elderly are more prone to these scams due to lack of mobility and other options. Some fake contractors might just take off with the money when they receive it, some might start the work and never finish, or they’ll simply do a bad job.
Authorities in Pinellas County, Florida (in the Clearwater/St. Petersburg area) just started cracking down on this chronic issue.
Deputies went after 20 contractors accused of working without licences and workers’ compensation insurance. Without workers’ compensation insurance, they can sue the property owner if they get injured on the job. One count of unlicensed contracting is a misdemeanor, while more than one counts as a felony. The men who scammed homeowners out of money face felony grand theft charges. (Tampa Bay Times)
Protect your investment and always ask the contractor for their license number and insurance. Unlicensed contractors typically do not have the education or qualification required, and may deliver poor quality work with non-compliance with building codes. Beware of scams in the construction and home improvement industries. Additionally, make sure the terms of the contract include an actual and enforceable delivery time of the project. Furthermore, you may want to include a “scope of work” section and penalty for non-compliance.
Let’s say you pay a contractor to remodel your bathroom. They finish the job, but he fails to pay the one of the subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, or material suppliers. The company can place a lien against your home, even though you paid the contractor. In Florida, there is almost no defense against this.
Hire an attorney to review and redact your written agreement with the contractor to avoid getting scammed.
Regardless of its causes, climate change poses real problems for Florida businesses. When it comes to sea level rise, Miami is the 9th most at-risk city in the world. (Source: OECD)
The cost of keeping the iconic south Florida city above water is expensive. Flood-prone Alton Road in Miami Beach is currently undergoing a $400 million renovation. The Guardian reports that a total of about $1.5 billion will be invested in flood-prevention measures city-wide.
According to FEMA, the effects of climate change include more intense storms, frequent heavy precipitation, heat waves, drought, extreme flooding, and higher sea levels. “The challenges posed by climate change… could significantly alter the types and magnitudes of hazards faced by communities,” states FEMA’s website. Elevation Certificates are one way that FEMA assesses flood risks.
Attorney Boyer predicts issues with insurance coverage, property damage and less bank lending. Flood insurance will become mandatory to receive a mortgage on at-risk areas, if it isn’t already. However, the cost of that insurance will be greatly inflated due to the likelihood of water damage. Without insurance, banks will refuse to give loans for these properties. Thus, property taxes will plummet in these areas, leaving the owners of these buildings stuck with an unsellable, depreciating asset.
Biscayne Bay and the Everglades also pose unique flooding problems.
Don’t rely on your average real estate agent to keep your long-term security in mind. They just want to receive commission and get rid of the property as fast as possible. Before making a real estate purchase in coastal areas of south Florida, be sure to consider the building’s elevation.
A property lien is a notice on a property from a creditor claiming the owner of the property owes them money.
If you are the buyer of a house and a title search is not done, or not done correctly, you could end up buying a house with a lien on it. Thus, taking on the previous owner’s debt as your own. Depending on the amount, this could bankrupt the buyer. A “Notice to Owner” means the property is at risk for a lien. The property could go into foreclosure and be sold without the owner’s consent.
Let’s say you pay a contractor to remodel your bathroom. They finish the job, but he fails to pay the one of the subcontractors, sub-subcontractors, or material suppliers. The company can place a lien against your home, even though you paid the contractor. In Florida, there is almost no defense against this. The best way to protect yourself from this is through preventative measures.
In the written agreement with the contractor, you may want to stipulate that they must give you a “written release from lien.” If you have received a “Notice to Owner,” you should contact an attorney immediately.
Protect your investment and always ask the contractor for their license number and insurance. Unlicensed contractors typically do not have the education or qualification required, and may deliver poor quality work with non-compliance with building codes. Additionally, this could leave the property owner on the hook to finish the project, even if they already paid.
Beware of scams in the construction and home improvement industries. Additionally, make sure the terms of the contract include an actual and enforceable delivery time of the project. Furthermore, you may want to include a penalty for non-compliance.
Commercial leases are different than residential agreements. Boyer Law Firm, P.L. handles the leasing, purchases, sales, and disputes that come with commercial real estate transactions.
When drafting a commercial lease, it’s important to stipulate who is responsible for damage due to natural disasters. After Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, businesses in southeastern U.S. are reviewing their lease agreements, and some are realizing they don’t have as much protection as they thought. Dealing with your landlords’ insurance companies and their legal team is an added stress after a big storm, so make sure you understand what rights your lease agreements grant you.
This can also be a stressful time for landlords, especially those dealing with several damaged properties. “Rebuilding after a hurricane presents dilemmas for owners of standard homeowner policies,” said Leslie Scism and Nicole Friedman in The Wall Street Journal. “Labor and materials costs can spike as many people seek contractors and supplies at the same time.”
Unless stipulated otherwise in the lease, the landlord is legally required to make certain repairs.