JACKSONVILLE, Fla — The roof on Julius Matito's home needs repair. In October, he signed a contract with a roofing contractor, now he is not sure he made the right decision.
"I don't know if I should go ahead and give him the money first," he said.
The contract calls for an assignment of insurance benefits. It simply means the contractor helps with the insurance claim and the homeowner (Matito) gives the entire insurance check to the contractor, even before the work begins.
"I don't feel comfortable," Matito said.
Monday, Matito came to Culhane's Irish Pub for "I'm Telling Ken" looking for answers.
"If there is a way to cancel this without having to pay for the whole amount that they are expecting?" he asked.
On Your Side reviewed the contract, discovered it was lacking and referred Matito to real estate attorney Barry Ansbacher.
"They would have had problems with that contract," Ansbacher said.
Ansbacher said in 2019, new laws were enacted regarding the assignment of benefits, and the language in Maltito's roofing contract does not meet the standard of law.
"There are certain details that must be in those assignment-of-benefit contracts, and in this contract, the details are lacking," he said.
Ansbacher found the contract lacked information about costs, rescission rights and more.
"That contract is void and unenforceable," he said. "The contract was after the date that this new law became effective."
He said Matito can get out of this contract. The homeowner is now looking for another roofer with a contract that protects him and meets the assignment of benefits law.
Ansbacher said an assignment agreement must:
"Be in writing and executed by and between the assignor and the assignee.
Contain a provision that allows the assignor to rescind the assignment agreement without a penalty or fee by submitting a written notice of rescission signed by the assignor to the assignee within 14 days after the execution of the agreement, at least 30 days after the date work on the property is scheduled to commence if the assignee has not substantially performed, or at least 30 days after the execution of the agreement if the agreement does not contain a commencement date and the assignee has not begun substantial work on the property.
Contain a written, itemized, per-unit cost estimate of the services to be performed by the assignee. . . .
Contain a provision requiring the assignee to provide a copy of the executed assignment agreement to the insurer within 3 business days after the date on which the assignment agreement is executed or the date on which work begins, whichever is earlier. . . ."
He said every homeowner should understand the scope of their Homeowner's Insurance policy prior to filing a claim.
When that time comes to hire a contracting service, he said before you sign the contract, complete a simple checklist:
- Check references
- Check licenses (don't just rely on internet ratings)
- Get the details in writing, like a start date and a finish date
- Finally, pay in thirds.
"If you're hiring a contractor and you have any care that you get what you promised," said Ansbacher, "you should never pay all the money upfront."