WSVN — For many people, buying a home is a dream come true. It’s also complicated, and you have to trust the people to do their job. But what happens if problems are not disclosed to you throughout the process? Let’s bring in Help Me Howard with Patrick Fraser.

There was an old advertising slogan that said, “Have it your way.”

Arlene Anderson: “I’m a fashion designer/dressmaker.”

Arlene is a designer that definitely wants her customers to have it their way.

Arlene Anderson: “If you decide you have this idea in your head, I’ll sketch it out, and we will come up with what it is you want. My slogan is, ‘If you can dream it, we can seam it.'”

Arlene’s Fort Lauderdale boutique makes everything from dresses to suits. A job she loves.

Arlene Anderson: “My husband always says, ‘You are the only person that I know that did what you went to school for.'”

Having her own shop is a dream come true for Arlene, and two years ago, when she and her husband Michael bought this house, that fulfilled a dream.

Arlene Anderson: “We walked in and my husband says, ‘Oh,’ and I said, ‘Yeah, this is it.'”

But, of course, since they had to call Help Me Howard, you know the dream has turned into a nightmare.

Arlene Anderson: “When they went to pull the permits, they found out that we can’t put shingles up there. It has to be tiled.”

The Andersons needed a new roof. That’s when they found out their shingle roof is not allowed in their Coral Springs neighborhood. Even worse, the roofer who installed it in 1993 pulled a permit but never closed it.

And there was another problem…

Arlene Anderson: “‘The previous owners pulled a permit for a tile roof, but they put shingles. That’s illegal.'”

When the Andersons bought the house in 2014, the title company did a search to make sure there were no open permits.

Arlene Anderson: “It was not disclosed. To me, that’s nondisclosure. It’s not disclosed that the roof is illegal.”

And the bad news just keep coming in.

Arlene Anderson: “If you get a hurricane and your roof blows off, your insurance company will not pay because you have an illegal roof.”

Well, Howard, what can Arlene and Michael do?

Howard Finkelstein: “There are several people possibly to blame for not disclosing the open permit: The seller, the title agent and one or both realtors. The buyer can and should sue all of them and let them fight it out who has to pay the damages, which would be the difference between the cost of a tile roof and a shingle roof. Or, they could work it out, which would be much better for everyone.”

In doing research, it doesn’t seem the seller and title company intentionally did anything wrong. The woman who did the title work said she found the open permit during her search, and the seller’s realtor told her it was taken care of.

The seller told us he thought the roofer closed the permit when he installed the roof, and when he put the house up for sale and learned about the open permit, his realtor told him he took care of it. He also said they put shingles on instead of tile in 1993 because city officials told them it was OK.

After we talked to them, the seller then offered the Andersons $5,000. Arlene wants $10,000.

The title company hired a lawyer who wrote, “It’s not the title company’s fault,” and they weren’t paying anything.

Arlene Anderson: “If it wasn’t for you guys with Help Me Howard, I wouldn’t have been able to get a hold of these people, ’cause I kept calling them, and no one would call me back.”

Fortunately, the sellers are offering some cash, but if they don’t offer more, she is going to take Howard’s advice and sue everyone, then let a judge see who has to pay what.

Arlene Anderson: “I will be really happy when all of this is finished so that I can enjoy my house.”

And, if it’s not worked out and Arlene has to sue, Howard thinks she will win.

Now, when you hire someone, don’t take their words for things. Demand to see the paperwork — in this case, the proof the permit was closed. The people you hire may be honest, but people make mistakes, leaving you with the headache. We will let you know how this one turns out.

Housing a problem and searching for an answer? You are “en-titled” to help, so permit us to step in. Hopefully we can design a solution and dress things up for you. With this Help Me Howard, I’m Patrick Fraser, 7News.

Reporter: Patrick Fraser at
Miami-Dade: 305-953-WSVN
Broward: 954-761-WSVN
On Twitter: @helpmehoward7

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