Thank you ahead of time for your input.
I purchased and flipped a house in Phoenixville Pa. Very nice 3br single home in a nice area. We did a COMPLETE rehab on the property including roof,siding,windows,dormer, 2 new baths, new floorring,kitchen,HVAC. The whole shooting match.
The houserehad was completed in Mid December 2013 and listed for sale. We had one of the worst winters we had in Pa in 20yrs. Snow on the roof constantly, ect.
The house was completely staged through out the winter months as the bad weather kept people away. finally it went to settlement on April 20 2014. Prior to settlement the buyers had a home inspection done and the house was also inspected by the local borough as we pulled permits to complete the work we had done.
April 21st, the day after settlement this area of PA and many other parts of the state had torrential down pours and I get a call from the new owner..."Chris the living room has a leak and it is coming out of the high hat lite and I don't know what to do!" Me being the nice guy that I am went over to see if there was a simple solution (In the torrential downpour). I got there and noticed the leak, looked around the outside for a missing shingle or anything obvious. Nothing. What I mentioned was that, "I know this isn't want you want to hear, but I feel as the rain is coming down so hard and the wind is so strong that I felt water might have been blowing into the ridge vent and making it's way down and following the path of least resistance." I suggested that they wait for the storm to pass and that it may not happen ever again, but if he would like he could call me later in the week to look at it when it wasn't coming down like buckets of water from the sky.
No call, but what he does is call a local "thief" being he is new to the area who is a "roof expert." He climbed on his roof and took pictures under 3 shingles that he lifted of nail holes that were not calked over, dabbed some calk on them and claimed that is the leak, problem solved and handed the guy a bill (1 hour later) for $940.. !!! BOY AM I IN THE WRONG BUSINESS.
Owner calls me and lets me know the "Roof Expert" solved the problem and that I need to do the right thing, and pay the bill. I explained that I offered to help him earlier, and that I WAS NOT going to pay ANYONE $940 to dab some calk on shingles, and futher more that I don't feel that was where the water was coming from.
I just had a state constable deliver me a summons today that this guy is now taking me to court over this damn bill.
MY question is......WHEN DO I NO LONGER BECOME RESPONSIBLE for the house? HOW do I make sure to win this in court? Am I gonna get a summons next week because his window is stuck and he had to pay someone $500 to spray it with WD40? If a pipe under the sink breaks and he hires someone to replace it for $10,000 am I on the hook? I know I am being sarcastic here, but it is about principle.
I spoke to a lawyer buddie of mine today about going to the local JP and the outcome, and he simply said, "Those judges could care less about the law, the judge will make you pay half as thet like the easy way out."
What ever happened the the law? How do I win this? And who is to say that during the next 100yr storm it won't happen again?
Not to be rude, but I am NOT looking for opinions, but rather a LAWYER or someone who has true knowledge of the law in PA. If possible I would like info on where to find case law where I can prove my case to the judge as I want to end this.
I can't give you any advice on the legal end of this but I can tell you what I do. Part of my contract with my contractors includes them to warranty any work performed for 1 year after completion. I've had one roofing issue come up since I started rehabbing houses and I just had my roofer go out and fix the problem for the new homeowner. I don't think this will help your current situation, but it might help you in the future.
If you want free legal advice, try Avvo.com
If you want real advice, hire a lawyer.
Or just pay the $940, call it bad luck and move on. Or just wait and be sued. You aren't the first person this has happened to FWIW. I had the same thing with a foundation leak 3 days before I was supposed to close a house this spring. I fixed it. Your problem is after the closing, so you could probably wiggle out, but it might be better to pay the guy and make him go away if you are going to do more flips locally.
Sold as is? Not liable for a damn thing. Caveat emptor...at the same time, pick your battles
It sounds like you spoke to an attorney that is a friend of yours and he told you the way it will work out.
I don't think you are legally obligated to pay. The day it closed is the day your responsibility ended. You made no misrepresentations or implied warranties I assume. They just bought a used home as is where is....most likely that is the legal case. New homes can typically include roof warranties or regulations that make you responsible even if not officially included. Any repair adjustments are almost always pre closing.
This is not my legal opinion or advice but merely stories I have heard before.
I am not an attorney nor do I play one on TV, but PA is a commonwealth state and many things that I would assume would be a slam dunk end up being completely opposite. You filled out a sellers disclosure and they can and will use anything in that against you and they will probably say you did not do a good job repairing the roof, I assume you will probably win in a legal battle but how much will it cost you to fight it? My attorney charges me over $100/hr and I have had some bills from him close to the cost to pay the contractor for much smaller things. If it were me and again you will want to talk it over with your attorney I would try to settle and half it with them and make them sign something stating that there will be no further claims brought against you if anything goes wrong (If Possible) good luck!
$100 an hour..WOW. mine charges $250hr. That is why I don't want to call him. I think he likes to bill me if he is "thinking" about a case while he is eating dinner.
The bottom line is that I need some type of case law to prove my case in court.
Who is to say that they didn't fudge the bill? How do you justify this bill? According to what you just typed, this ex-roofer is charging almost 10 times what your attorney is charging.
I think I need to go into the "Roof Leak Business". the hell with law school or Medical school.
I send mine a good deal of business so I am sure I get a little price cut, honestly I think you are taking it personally and this is business while it sucks you need to find your best option and take it (Consalt your attorney). Again I would be searching for a settlement instead of going to mediation or arbitration over such a small bill.
@Chris Da I can't give you any advice on the legal end of this, but I agree with @Kyle Samuel on this one, learn from your mistakes and set your contracts up differently now to cover your self for next time this happens. Because when you get your day in court and everything is said and done, it might become into a Hugh expense that you don't want to get into. Most legal battles are won from the beginning of the contact agreement in setting up the contracts not the end. I know you don't want to hear this, but if it was me, I would just pay the amounts owed, and learn from my mistakes, then move on to the next deal.
He should be suing his inspector if he's looking for a someone to pay. He should be looking to his insurance company to be made whole as well. Sure the Magistrate could do something silly, but doubt it, he's got to get elected again, right? Even if he tried to get you to split it, you could appeal. I've had a Magistrate try to see how flexible I was on eviction matters, like timing of getting out, I held my ground to the time established by law and he had to follow my lead. The magistrates don't want things to go to appeal, it makes them look bad.
The facts are the facts, he bought a used house, you gave no warrantees, he did his due diligence with an inspection, the freakish winter / spring weather we had, etc... case dismissed.
Did you use a Pro Roofer? did he give a warrantee? I know a lot of times we use guys with no warrantees, the buyer has to rely on his inspection. That's what it's for, it's not like you prevented him from getting an inspection.
$940? That doesn't seem right either, that's not going to look good for them.
This isn't legal advice either.
There are two issues here. One is the responsibility of a seller after the sale. That is well defined by case law everywhere. There are pretty clear-cut rules, and if you didn't know about the issue and the home was inspected and all the paperwork was done correctly, your responsibility as a seller likely ended at the point of sale.
The second issue is the responsibility of whoever did the roof. Evidently, that work wasn't adequate, and the new homeowner should probably be going after the roofer for construction defects. @Chris Da if you did the roof yourself, you'll likely be on the hook as the roofer. If you hired someone, the responsibility and liability likely belongs to him.
The copy of the bill may just be your best piece of evidence . If your contractor that did the roof warranties his work , he also probably has the provision in his contract that if anyone else does anything to the roof , the warranty is void . The new homeowner would have voided the warranty .
This would be a issue for the homeowners insurance company .
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