Every hurricane brings along with it a surge of fly-by-night operators who pocket insurance settlements after promising vulnerable homeowners to rebuild.Î¾ Some demand large, up-front payments and then flee.Î¾ Others perform shoddy work.Î¾ Lone Star Legal Aid has been holding free legal help at community events to help homeowners with hiring home repair contractors.Î¾ Max Sukiennik, managing attorney for the LSLA office in Galveston, says it's a fairly significant problem.
"Usually, it's a situation where work has been done improperly or money has been taken and nothing has been done.Î¾ Building permits are not pulled.Î¾ Roofs that are replaced don't seem to pass inspection for windstorm insurance.Î¾ And the bigger problem is trying to find the contractor or the repairman who did the work.Î¾ Many of them are long since gone."Î¾Î¾
Sukiennik says a homeowner can avoid becoming a victim by exercising due dilligence.
"We have the list of the bad guys—the ones that seem to be doing this over and over and over again.Î¾ Ask for references, and I don't mean references of who the contractor will give them, but the last four, five or six jobs that they did.Î¾ Another thing I did is go to the courthouse to see if that contractor is the main defendant in any lawsuits.Î¾ I also advise them to call the Better Business Bureau, and I also ask them to check with the District Attorney's office."
Sukiennick says disasters bring out the best and the worst in people.Î¾ Lone Star Legal Aid has been helping homeowners with recovery since the hurricane struck on September 13th.Î¾
Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.