(WSVN) - There were plenty of headaches last year, and in most cases, Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser were able to find solutions. Some of those problems may hit you in 2018, so how can you be prepared? Howard and Patrick take a look back at the seven most common problems they faced last year.
Patrick Fraser: “Hello everybody. I’m the Patrick in the Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.”
Howard Finkelstein: “And I am the Howard in Help Me Howard.”
Howard Finkelstein: “It has been another busy year for South Floridians, made even more hectic by that hurricane named Irma.
Patrick Fraser: “With 2017 in the rearview mirror, we head on to bigger and better things in 2018, which is our 20th year of Help Me Howard. Twenty years — you look exactly the same!
Howard Finkelstein: “What bumps in the road of your life can you expect 2018? We can guess by looking at the seven most common headaches you had in 2017.”
We mentioned Irma, so let’s begin at number seven, with something Irma made worse than ever: trees.
Patrick Fraser: “After the hurricane, a lot of people contacted us when their neighbor’s tree fell on their property or their tree fell on their neighbor’s property. Another issue we hear year round: your neighbor’s tree hanging over your yard or house.”
Wanna branch out and answer those?
Howard Finkelstein: “If your tree falls on your neighbor’s property, it’s your tree and you should remove it, but you are not responsible for the damage. As far as your neighbor’s branches, you can cut anything hanging over your property.”
At number six, landlords. The two most common complaints? The landlord won’t fix a problem, like mold. The other major headache you contact us about is getting your security deposit back.
Howard Finkelstein: “When it comes to a major problem, send the landlord a letter giving them seven days to correct the problem. Let them know that if they don’t, you will break the lease and move out, and they have to return any money they owe you. As for a security deposit, do a walk-through with the landlord and take pictures as you leave.”
At number five: troubles with businesses. Not as many complaints as in years past, but still some headaches, ranging from those used car dealers who just create so many calls for us, to new products that break again and again, to people you hire to do a job and they just rip you off.
Patrick Fraser: “So many different kinds of businesses, but is there a solution for many of them?”
Howard Finkelstein: “Very simple: try to pay with a credit card. If you do, that gives you the chance to get the money back from a credit card company. Also, pay as they go instead of a big deposit or lump sum up front.”
At number four: battling insurance companies. We heard from a few of you about your health insurance not covering your medical bills, and a lot of you about car insurance. We discovered one company is using a loophole they wrote to avoid paying for a customer’s damaged car. And one refused to pay because they said their customer wrecked because he was shot and killed while driving the car, and they didn’t cover damage done during a murder.
Howard Finkelstein: “I know it’s difficult, but read the policy. And remember: If it’s real cheap, it probably means it’s not very good coverage.”
At number three: battling Uncle Sam, or in the case of local government, Uncle Sam’s younger bureaucracies.
From traffic tickets, to a business who could not get a city to pay them for work they did, to a property tax bill that soared, to people drowning with a water bill and then battling a city that wanted him to change a driveway his father installed 50 years ago.
That solution you mentioned 20 years ago is still a good one here.
Howard Finkelstein: “Be the squeaky wheel. Talk to the supervisor, the city or county manager, the mayor or commissioner, but make sure you don’t give up.”
At number two: condo and homeowner associations, and of course, their management companies.
From an association with a falling garage damaging cars, to a condo board where the president was a convicted felon, to one where owners paid for a water view until the board decided to rent the dock space to a yacht company blocking their view, Howard, this year it seemed I heard more and more from homeowners that their board and management companies are acting like bullies.
Howard Finkelstein: “Get involved. Go to meetings. Get on the board. And make sure you have a copy of your association documents to make sure you know what the association can and can’t do.”
And the biggest problem we heard about in 2017? People battling people.
Two wealthy neighbors who were great at irritating each other. The woman who stopped an entire condo building from getting tented for termites.
A lot of internet issues, pictures of a families, boys were taken from Facebook by a woman who claimed they were her children. People getting bashed by other people on the internet … and the man who got dumped by a fiancee who would not return his engagement ring.
Howard, if there was an answer for people versus people, you could solve the world’s problems.
Howard Finkelstein: “There are many more problems you faced. I am sure you can think of a few off the top of your head. All of the Help Me Howards are at wsvn.com under the Help Me Howard category.”
Check there to see if we investigated a problem like yours and the way to do it. And, if that doesn’t solve your problem, get in touch with us and let us help you. We have been doing this for 20 years. We are starting to get the hang of it.
Happy new year, everyone, and thank you so much for turning to us for help, and for watching 7News.
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