You did the right thing. You hired a licensed contractor to do a project for you, obtained a permit, and placed a deposit down. The contractor began doing the work but somewhere along the line he completely abandoned the project. You try to find him but to no avail. He dodges all of your calls and won’t respond to your letters. So, reluctantly, you sue him and you win only to find out that you cannot collect from him (he might have even filed for bankruptcy to dodge the judgment). So, you are out your deposit, attorney’s fees, and you still do not have a finished project to boot. You may think you are completely out of luck but the state of Florida has created a fund specifically for the situation you are in. It’s called the Florida Homeowner’s Construction Recovery Fund and here is how you can possibly receive payment from the fund for your abandoned project.1
Who is eligible for the Florida Homeowner’s Construction Recovery Fund?
You are eligible to seek an award from the Florida Homeowner’s Construction Recovery Fund if you have:2
- Entered into a signed written contract with a licensed contractor for a project to be completed on your home;
- Received a final judgment from a court or arbitrator in Florida or order of restitution from the Construction Industry Licensing Board against the contractor, officer of company or the company itself;
- Diligently attempted to collect from the contractor; AND
- Suffered a financial loss due to the contractor violating Florida Statute 489.129(1) (g)(j)(k)
- Committing mismanagement causing harm including:
- Valid liens being placed against the property of a contractor’s customer for supplies or services ordered by contractor for customer’s job; the contractor has received funds for the materials/services; and the contractor has not had the liens removed from property 75 days after the liens were placed.
- Contractor abandons the job and the percentage paid is greater than the percentage of work completed
- The contractor’s job has been completed, and it is shown that the customer has had to pay more for the contracted job than the original contract price
- Abandoning the project (terminates without just cause or fails to perform for 90 consecutive days); OR
- Falsely indicating or stating the project is bonded; falsely indicating payment has been made to subcontracted work, labor or materials which results in financial loss to owner; or falsely indicating workers’ compensation and public liability insurance are provided.
- Committing mismanagement causing harm including:
Steps to Get your Money Back
The Florida Homeowner’s Construction Recovery Fund is a last resort for Florida homeowners that have suffered a loss at the hands of a licensed contractor. If you have a project that has been mismanaged or abandoned your first step is to contact an attorney to see what your initial options are.
Next, if your attorney determines that you have a right to recover against the contractor then you should pursue a lawsuit against the contractor or file a complaint with the Construction Industry Licensing Board a part of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. If and when you prevail in the lawsuit and obtain a judgment against the contractor you must diligently attempt to collect from the contractor.
Once you have come to the conclusion that you cannot collect any of the judgment you have obtained you may file a claim with the Construction Industry Licensing Board for up to $50,000. You may file a claim even if you are able to collect some but not all of your judgment. The fund may cover the difference between what has been paid and what is owed. If your claim is paid then you are required to assign your right to collect up to the amount paid to the Fund so that they may collect from the contractor.
There is help for those who need it!
Making a claim to the Florida Homeowner’s Construction Recovery Fund gives you the ability to be reimbursed for what you lost on a project gone wrong. It can provide a second method of recovery to strategic litigation. An experienced attorney can help you file and win a suit and then navigate the process of filing a claim with the Construction Industry Licensing Board. If you think you have a claim against a contractor contact an experienced attorney at the Boatman Law Firm for help.
1. See this news story for success stories http://www.wptv.com/money/florida-homeowners-construction-recovery-fund-reimburses-homeowners-ripped-off-by-contractors
2. See this fact sheet for more information: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pro/cilb/documents/recov_info.pdf
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