Home Inspector Fired In Dispute Over Pay

The Tampa Tribune

Published: Oct 30, 2007

TAMPA - The state Department of Financial Services is considering legal action against a former My Safe Florida Home inspector.

Specifically, the state wants to stop Gordon Miller, who worked for AmeriPro Inspection Corp., from "potentially threatening or harassing" homeowners, officials said Monday.

Miller, in a Sept. 26 letter to Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, alleged he and other AmeriPro inspectors were not being paid by company owner Michael Rowan.

In the past two weeks, however, Miller began mailing letters to homeowners saying he would get a mechanic's lien against each property he inspected, forcing the respective owners to pay him the $150 inspection fee.

The state said Miller can't secure liens against the properties.

"He's trying to do everything he can to discredit our company," Rowan said Monday.

Rowan doesn't dispute that Miller is owed about $3,500. But he said Miller wasn't paid for all his work because the inspections were not acceptable.

Rowan said problems with Miller's inspections were found when the company did quality-assurance re-inspections, per state requirements. He said Miller also received "a lot of complaints from homeowners," including allegations he inspected houses when no one was home, which is not allowed.

Miller did not respond to two e-mails and a phone call Monday seeking comment.

"If any homeowners feel threatened or harassed, we would urge them to contact their local authorities or our helpline for assistance," Tara Klimek, communications director for Sink, said Monday.

Klimek said program officials have talked to two homeowners who contacted the state about Miller's letter. One of those families, according to documents on file with the state Attorney General's office, is from St. Petersburg.

My Safe Florida Home was created in August 2006 to help homeowners assess whether their houses could withstand a hurricane. The inspections are free. The state, until recently, contracted with 11 firms and paid each $150 for every inspection completed. The firm pays a percentage of the fee to inspectors. To date, there have been a little more than 111,000 inspections performed.

On Monday, the state announced it is cutting ties with four of the 11 firms, including AmeriPro, because they did not meet state standards. A fifth firm was fired two weeks ago for contract violations.

Rowan said Miller did more than 400 inspections for AmeriPro. He said the company is re-inspecting each of those homes.

"We're not saying every inspection is a problem," Rowan said. "We're doing our due-diligence."

A letter from AmeriPro is expected to be mailed today to the affected homeowners.

AmeriPro, based in Jacksonville, recently was audited by the state. The audit found the company failed to keep required documentation on file, including criminal history affidavits for each inspector, negative drug test results, training certification and liability automobile insurance coverage.

Rowan said Monday that Miller was fired two months ago. The state said it wasn't notified until Friday about Miller's termination.

Reporter John W. Allman can be reached at (813) 259-7915 or jallman@tampatrib.com.

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