(WSVN) - He hired a contractor, and he said the contractor didn’t do the work. But what he did do is place a lien on his property. It’s a weird mess, and that’s why the call went out to Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

Ever heard an old-timer state, “They don’t make them like they used to?” Anthony’s house is proof of that.

Anthony Adams: “It took us four hours.”

Patrick Fraser: “To drill a hole in the wall.”

Anthony Adams: “It was solid, solid block.”

His home on the Little River in Miami was built in 1938 — old by South Florida standards.

Anthony Adams: “We’re one of the first ones on the first built on the river. It’s a historical home.”

But of course, times change, and being the only house with jalousie windows is not a good thing anymore.

Anthony Adams: “These are the original windows, and they’re not very efficient because they’re jalousie windows.”

Then a contractor said he would replace the 15 windows, two doors and get Anthony the financing to do the $27,000 job. “ASAP,” the contractor wrote.

Anthony Adams: “It was May 18th, 2022. That’s when I signed this contract.”

Two years later, as you can see, no new windows, and Anthony says, for months, no word from the contractor.

Anthony Adams: “He didn’t do anything. I kept calling every single week.”

Finally, Anthony went to the company’s office.

Anthony Adams: “‘I want to see the 15 windows and the two-door entries that supposedly you have already purchased.'”

Anthony says they wouldn’t show them to him. When he found out they also had not pulled a permit a year after he signed up with them, he canceled the contract and canceled the financing.

Anthony Adams: “And this guy still went and put a lien on my property when he’s done no work in two years.”

That’s right. Two years after signing the contract — with no permit, no work done — the contractor filed a lien saying Anthony owed them $21,237.

Patrick Fraser: “The line is to recover what?”

Anthony Adams: “To recover what? Where’s the materials?”

Anthony put the lien behind him, or so he thought, because when he went to his bank to borrow the money to hire another contractor to replace the windows, the lien hit him.

Anthony Adams: “They can’t approve my home equity line to continue the repairs on my home because I have a lien on my property. It has frozen my assets completely.”

The house is 86 years old and has been in Anthony’s family for decades. To pay off the lien on the property could devastate Anthony’s future.

Anthony Adams: “That would have to come out of my retirement fund.”

Well, Howard, what can a property owner do about a lien that they don’t think is valid?

Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Liens were created to protect contractors who worked on your property. However, contractors cannot place a lien if they did not spend money on materials or do work. If that happens to you, and it causes problems, you can sue the contractor to get the lien lifted, and you can collect damages and get your attorney’s fees covered.”

We contacted A to Z General Contractors. They told us they had the windows and doors. We asked to see them. They didn’t show us, but they said to show good faith, they would release the lien on Anthony’s house. They then filed a satisfaction of lien, ending Anthony’s battle.

Anthony Adams: “Two years of a nightmare. If it wasn’t for you guys, I’d probably – it’d probably take me two more years to get out of this mess.”

He got rid of an old problem and can try once again make his historic home look newer, after his call to Help Me Howard.

Anthony Adams: “You use your own resources, your own investigative team, your own lawyers, everything to resolve issues for our community. It’s unbelievable what you guys do. I am so thankful.”

And thank you, Anthony, for letting us help you out. Now, If you get a lien you don’t think is legit, know that it automatically expires after a year if the contractor doesn’t file suit. But if it is legit, don’t ignore the lien, because in some cases the contractor can foreclose on your house if you don’t pay it.

A historic problem aging you? Crack open the window to let us see it, to come up with a modern solution.

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

Email: helpmehoward@wsvn.com
Reporter: Patrick Fraser at pfraser@wsvn.com
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN

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