A shocking YouTube video has taken the internet by storm this week after homeowners have discovered a law they’re calling ‘wrong on so many levels.’
The video by Steve Lehto of Lehto’s Law discusses several legal issues regarding homeowners and contractors in Florida and other states that have struck the internet as wildly unfair.
Lehto first touches on homeowner liability for unpaid bills, pointing out that in Florida and 26 other states including Michigan, homeowners can be held liable for unpaid bills by contractors to suppliers.
He then opens up about lien release agreements. Lehto advises homeowners to always ask contractors for a lien release agreement because if a contractor does not pay a supplier, the supplier can place a lien on the homeowner’s property.
Lehto offers a homeowner named Tim in St. Petersburg, Florida, as a real-life example of someone who experienced this issue. He hired contractors for renovations, and paid for supplies, but later found a lien on his home because the supplier hadn’t been paid by the contractor.
The lien on Tim’s home was $6,557.95, even though he had already paid for the supplies in full. Suppliers can follow a process to ensure payment, including sending early notices about supplying materials to a job and the possibility of a lien if not paid.
The law allows suppliers to file a lien against a property if they are not paid, using the property as collateral. This is seen as necessary to protect suppliers – but can result in homeowners paying twice for the same job, as Lehto’s video points out!
So, how can Florida homeowners avoid falling victim to this strange law? Lehto emphasizes the importance of using reputable contractors. He stresses that it’s essential homeowners ask contractors for references, proof of licensing, and examples of previous work.
Lehto also advises that if a homeowner ends up paying a supplier due to a lien, they theoretically have the option to sue the contractor for reimbursement.
One commenter wrote: “As a contractor, all I can say about that law is wow. That law is wrong on so many levels. I couldn’t imagine a homeowner getting duped by a shady person to be followed up with getting sued by a supply company.”
Another added: “The most insane thing to me about the law is that ANYONE thought it was necessary! Somehow a normal customer has to pay upfront before they can remove product from the store, but ‘contractors’ magically don’t?”
Other homeowners shared their own personal horror stories relating to the law.
One wrote: “Jeezus. Yeah, happened to me 20 years ago building a garage. It has a basement with poured concrete walls. Walls got poured, but it turns out the contractor had terminal cancer. He did not pay the subcontractor for the formwork and did not pay the concrete vendor. This guy had a good reputation in the construction community before my job. Found out that he spent the money on medical, family & bucket list stuff. I sued him but he died before it went to court, Out $24,000 I did not have. I had to mortgage my house to pay it.”
Another recounted: “My friend hired a contractor for repairs and gave him a partial payment for materials. He found out a few days later the contractor was in the midst of a personal bankruptcy proceeding. He showed up at the contractor’s house and ended up keeping the contractor’s expensive joiner until he received his deposit back from the contractor.”
Overall, the most important thing for homeowners is to be aware of this law. If you don’t even know it exists, it’s impossible to take adequate steps to protect yourself when hiring contractors for home improvements or repairs.