WSVN — He hired a repairman to fix his roof. The man took his money, says he fixed the roof, but it still leaks, and the repairman won’t come back. Can a normal, honest South Florida homeowner fight back against a repair business? Yes, they can. It’s why we have Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

When we met with Mike Greenstein, he was packing up, getting ready to sell the house and move after he and his wife retired.

Mike Greenstein: "This house is gonna be empty next Friday, and hopefully all these little problems are going to get taken care of and get fixed."

One little problem was a roof edge with a small leak.

Mike Greenstein: "Water comes through these eves. That one over there, and this one over here."

A few months earlier, Mike thought he had taken care of the problem.

Mike Greenstein: "And we hired some gentleman to do this job, and he was highly recommended by someone that we know."

The man wanted $1,000. Mike gave him a $370 deposit. And the day he came to do the work, Mike was taking some friends to the beach. The repairman had a request.

Mike Greenstein: "’By the time you get back from the beach, basically the job is going to be finished. Could you please pay me now?’ So knowing this other woman used him and was very satisfied, I paid him in advance."

The repairman now had Mike’s $1,000. When Mike came home, he thought the roof was fixed. Then:

Mike Greenstein: "The next rain, it came down."

Mike’s wife recorded the rain. It was actually worse, now filling a light fixture.

Mike called the repairman, he came back and said this time it was fixed.

It rained again, still leaking. And when Mike called, the repairman refused to come back.

Mike then hired another highly recommended company. They went up on the roof, removed the tiles and found this… Their opinion of the original repairman?

Mike Greenstein: "He claims he didn’t do anything, and from the pictures he actually showed us, it doesn’t look like anything was done."

The new roofer then went to work, unlike the first guy who took the money, and obviously didn’t do anything.

Mike Greenstein: "I’d like my $1,000 back that I gave him, and I would like him out of circulation because he is one of these guys who is taking money from everybody else."

Well, Howard, you hire someone and they do next to nothing and won’t return your money. Legally, what can you do?

Howard Finkelstein: "Mike has two options. Any job that costs $1,000 or more requires a state roofers license. If the man didn’t have one, Florida can charge him with a crime and collect restitution for the job that wasn’t done. Second option, sue in small claims court."

We checked to see if the repairman, John Robitaille was licensed to work in Florida– he isn’t. When we spoke to him, he said he told Mike he did not have a license. Mike says that’s not true.

When we asked him to return Mike’s $1,000, he said, "No, put me on Help Me Howard. I don’t care." He then told us he wouldn’t get in trouble with the state because a new law requires the property owner to find out if the repairman is licensed, so he feels like he is off the hook.

Howard Finkelstein: "No, he’s wrong. He has to be licensed, and to protect yourself before you hire a roofer, ask to see their license or go online to check yourself. It’s worth your time and money to do it."

The second roofer fixed the leak, Mike sold his house and is enjoying retirement, relaxing a little wiser than a few months ago.

Mike Greenstein: "You don’t pay anybody before the job is done. Absolutely and get more than one opinion about somebody. Don’t just hire somebody."

The repairman came highly recommended by a friend, and you saw what he got. That’s why Mike says talk to a couple of people who used them, if you can. Mike can file a complaint with the state and let them see if they want to file charges and can get his money back.

And if you want to file a complaint against a repairman or any business, or if you want to check to see if they are licensed by the state before you give them a deposit, the links are below.

Problems pouring into your life faster than you can patch things up? Ready to blow the roof off them? Contact us. We aren’t good with asphalt, but we can guarantee to leave you high and dry. In a good way. 

With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.



E-mail: (please include your contact phone number when e-mailing)
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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