LOS ANGELES – In the wake of recent heavy downpours and with more rain on the way, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer highlighted the significant dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors to perform home repairs.
Feuer spoke of a recent case in which his office is seeking thousands of dollars in restitution for an elderly couple who sustained significant damage to their home by an unlicensed contractor.
“Substandard work performed by unlicensed contractors can have devastating financial consequences for homeowners,” Feuer said. “My office will continue to fight back by empowering residents with the information they need to avoid being victimized and aggressively seeking restitution for those who are harmed.”
The City Attorney’s Office secured a conviction against Zsolt Labancz for contracting without a license after an investigation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB).
The defendant was paid $5,900 by an elderly couple for a number of repairs to their home including fixing two minor leaks on the roof, repairing a skylight and gutter work. Instead of fixing the problems the defendant’s substandard work further damaged the roof directly resulting in thousands of dollars of damage to household items, carpets and appliances when heavy rains returned and water poured into the home.
As a result of the damages, the couple was forced to pay more than $3,000 for temporary tarps to cover the roof.
Foam sealant used by the defendant in an attempt to plug the leaks on the roof resulted in $1,000 in damage to the air conditioning and heater units.
A full restitution hearing was scheduled. The City Attorney’s Office is seeking $95,498 for all economic losses suffered as a result of the defendant’s substandard work on the roof and other parts of the home.
Deputy City Attorney Jeremy Berzon is the assigned prosecutor on the case.
“The worst thing that can happen to a storm victim is to be victimized a second time,” said CSLB Registrar Cindi Christenson. “Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes to check out a contractor on the CSLB website to make sure they’re properly licensed and qualified to do the job.”
As part of a public awareness campaign aimed at informing homeowners of warning signs of similar roofing scams, the City Attorney is advising consumers get multiple bids for contracts, check references and to watch out for:
· Individuals without a state contractor’s license.
· Unsolicited offers for roof inspection, especially after a storm
· Requests for a large down payment or cash only contracts
Additional tips can be found on the City Attorney’s website: www.lacityattorney.org.