Contract disputes may be more likely with oral agreements

A handshake used to make an honorable agreement between two people doing business. Unfortunately, when people rely on a handshake, they may end up in contract disputes that lead to litigation. For one couple in Florida, such a dispute took a bizarre turn when the contractor they hired to renovate their home failed to provide what he promised.

The homeowner and his wife lived in another state but purchased a house in Florida for their retirement home. When driving through the neighborhood, they noticed a contractor's van and obtained references from him. Impressed with the quality of his work and the positive words from neighbors, the couple arranged for the contractor to complete extensive renovations on their home during the months they would be in their home state. Their verbal contract was sealed with a handshake.

Over the next eight months, the contractor sent them numerous receipts and requested more money for the project. He continued to make excuses for the slow progress of the work, and his demands for more money continued. When the couple arrived in December to move into their new home, they were devastated to see that what little work was complete was done so poorly that house was unlivable.

When the couple tried to contact the contractor, they were told he had died in a car accident. They had paid him $7,600 for the renovations and spent another $15,000 to repair the work he had done. They also learned his contractor's license was fake. However, the biggest shock came when they discovered the man was not dead, but he was hiding out in his home to avoid them.

The couple's case is now moving to a civil action in a Florida court. They are suing him for the amount of money they paid him and the subsequent repairs, as well as for his false representation as a licensed contractor. Those facing similar contract disputes, whether written or oral, can benefit from the guidance of an attorney.

Source: tampabay.com, "Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners", Mark Puente, June 23, 2017