(WSVN) - The homeowner said, “We want you to landscape our new house, but you have to work under our developer.” And when the landscaper was finished, he discovered the owner and developer were suing each other, and he couldn’t get paid for a while. Is that legal? It’s why he called Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
Israel Camacho grew up in the landscaping business.
Israel Camacho, Champions Landscaping: “My father is a landscape designer, and I was just always helping him out, growing up as a kid. I enjoyed always being with him and learning what he does.”
Today he owns his own successful company, in part because of some simple advice his father gave him.
Israel Camacho: “‘Pay attention. Make sure it looks good.'”
Recently, he was contacted by homeowners he had worked for in the past to landscape the new house they were having built.
Israel Camacho: “It’s a gorgeous house. It’s right on the Intracoastal, and we worked out a couple of proposals, and we put them together and gave them to her.”
Both homeowners are attorneys and wanted Israel to work as a subcontractor under their developer.
Israel Camacho: “They both said to us, ‘There will be no problems, there will be no issues. They will make sure that we get paid.'”
It was a $18,600 contract. Halfway through the job, Israel was paid $7,000. Then he finished, as captured by 7SkyForce HD.
Israel Camacho: “I did a beautiful job.”
With his work done, Israel asked the developer for his other nearly $12,000.
Israel Camacho: “I contacted them. Last thing they told me was they didn’t hire me, that I need to speak to the Rosens.”
Israel remembered a text he received from the homeowners when he mentioned he was not getting paid that said, “Mark’s taking care of it. Please be patient.” Later, the homeowners sent me an email repeating what Mark said. They told him, “We always do the right thing.”
So Israel called them.
Israel Camacho: “They’re not answering my calls. The last thing they told me is that eventually I will get paid.”
But then a big headache for Israel: The homeowners, the Rosens, sued the developer, Barron Development. Barron Development then filed a lawsuit against the Rosens.
Guess where that leaves Israel.
Israel Camacho: “In the middle, with no money.”
A developer and the owners of a multimillion-dollar property can afford a court battle, but the small business owner worries he won’t survive without his $11,742.
Israel Camacho: “I’m kinda stuck, because I can’t move forward. I don’t have the funds.”
Well, Howard, what are Israel’s options?
Howard Finkelstein, 7News legal expert: “Legally, these types of cases can be very complicated. On the one hand, Israel is stuck until the lawsuits are settled between the homeowner and the developer. But the homeowners’ text seems to say they will pay him. However, the homeowner can say they don’t have a contract with Israel. The developer does. One other option: Both the homeowner and developer agree to let Israel be paid and remove that amount of money from the lawsuits.”
We spoke to the homeowners and the developer. Both referred us to their attorneys.
The attorney for the homeowners said the developer had placed a lien on the property, and if his clients paid Israel, it would damage their lawsuit.
The attorney for Barron Development said, if the homeowners wanted to pay Israel, they were willing to deduct that $11,742 amount from the lien and their lawsuit.
Then, this past weekend, the homeowner, Mark Rosen, paid Israel the $11,742 in full. Israel signed a receipt saying, “Even though the Rosens do not individually nor contractually owe these monies to me, I accept their payment on behalf of Barron Development Corporation.”
And Howard says, if you are a subcontractor, there are ways to protect yourself.
Howard Finkelstein: “Two legal suggestions if you work on a property. First, even if you are under a general contractor or developer, try to get what’s called a ‘third party guarantee’ in writing that specifically says the property owner will pay you and when. Secondly, if you don’t have that and you don’t get paid, place a lien on the property within 90 days of completing your work. That insures you get paid.”
Israel Camacho: “It worked out very good.”
Needless to say, Israel is very happy the homeowners paid him before the lawsuits were settled.
Israel Camacho: “I am very glad I called Help Me Howard. Thanks to you guys, I finally got my check, paid in full.”
Glad Israel got that money he needed. And, another way to make sure things work out if you do work for somebody: get paid as the work progresses. That way, if something goes wrong, you won’t be owed as much.
Someone planted a problem in your way? Don’t let it grow on you. Check out the landscape and chose us. See if we can dig our way out of it for you.
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