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05-16-2012, 12:41 PM #1
Howdy Ya'll.....Every once in a while I get a call from someone who would like a home inspection in order to solve a problem for them.....for instance to use in litigation for when a landlord doesn't want to repair their home or to document mold that they have seen so that they can get their deposit back etc. I was wondering how many of you take every job that comes your way or if you try to avoid doing an inspection if you suspect that it will be used for litigation purposes?
05-16-2012, 01:24 PM #2
Over the years I've had several calls from tenants wanting some sort of inspection.
Depending on the circumstances I have done some at no charge. But I have never had anybody pay. Basically they are cheep and/or do not have any money.
For older rental property use the International Property Maintenance Code
and city health code.
' correct a wise man and you gain a friend... correct a fool and he'll bloody your nose'.
05-16-2012, 04:52 PM #3
Once you write that report you can get dragged into any court proceeding they want you to attend. You won't get paid, you won't be an expert witness, you will just be explaining your inspection and report.
05-18-2012, 07:23 AM #4
thanks guys.....I try to avoid trouble if I can.....so I usually bunt these down the road....
05-19-2012, 07:49 AM #5
Re: moldScott Patterson, ACI
Spring Hill, TN
05-19-2012, 08:00 AM #6
That gets quite time-consuming ... and "time" = "money" because those inspections are done on an hourly basis, which means the more time spent documenting everything and thing doing the research to form you opinions and support them all adds to the cost.
05-19-2012, 05:54 PM #7
My experience in the courtroom is almost nil and what there is ain't pretty. I once wrote that flashing on the roof was either absent or incorrect in places, that it was unsatisfactory and that it would allow for leakage. The defendant's attorney was trying to nail me for not saying it needed "repair".
I really don't have time in my life for that kind of lunacy.
Eric Barker, ACI
Lake Barrington, IL
05-21-2012, 01:28 AM #8
05-21-2012, 04:54 AM #9
I have been in one court case. I made it clear in the begining I don't work for free.If I get called into court you pay for me sitting there. My first case I made more money that the person who had the law suite. I charged so much hour. I let them know in advance they will be billed. I do get a lot of people calling about mold just to get out of their lease. Those people I let them know upfront ,it may cost more for me to sample mold than their depoist is worth
Lawyers get paid to go to court ,why not us.
05-21-2012, 06:05 AM #10
I was recently contacted by a law firm to inspect a house that they were taking back from the owner. They wanted to make sure the owner had not damaged the property during the long and bitter court case. That was 2 months ago and I am still waiting to get paid. It depends how busy I am if I take them.
Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah
05-21-2012, 06:27 AM #11
I must admit, though, that I do not always follow that rule ... and every time I don't, I regret it - I still get paid, it just takes a while.
05-21-2012, 03:42 PM #12
I frequently get calls from tenants looking for some reason to get out of their leases (my company name has the county name in it so some think I am a county inspector). 99 times out of 100, as soon as I mention the fee, they say never mind.
Don't be afraid of going to court as an expert witness. I used to be a municipal code enforcement officer and testified many times. The City Attorney at the time coached me on how to testify and it has helped me ever since. Now I get involved in at least one litigation case a year.
- Be prepared.
- Use pictures whenever possible in support of your report.
- Only answer what is asked; don't volunteer anything.
- Only testify to what you have actually observed.
- Make sure that you have spoken to your client's attorney so they know the right questions to ask you, and what weaker ground to avoid.
I charge by half-day blocks for court time, so if I have a 9:00 a.m. court time, even if I sit throughout the morning, I get paid. Or if I testify first and am out in 10 minutes (never happens) I also get paid for the half-day since I couldn't schedule anything else in the time slot. I charge hourly for depositions.
And finally, unless you are a named party in the suit, my understanding is that you are indeed an expert witness and have the right to be paid. My attorney has told me that if subpoenaed to testify, show up, but if put on the stand you can ask the judge to determine who pays the fee and it becomes, effectively, a court order. If no one is going to pay (never has happened to me) I would simply read directly from my report; if asked an opinion on anything, you are by definition an expert witness.
Litigation can be a very long drawn out process, but as said above, stay ahead on payments and make what you can.
Allegany Inspection Service (Maryland)
05-22-2012, 09:29 PM #13
I get a call every couple months for something like this.... usually from a tenant in an alleged "slumlord" scenario. I've never gone out to any property but often spend 15 minutes or so on the phone advising the tenant.
Mainly, I tell them to get their hands on the local Tenant/Landlord Handbook. It explains their rights and the rights of the landlord. I also advise them to contact the local housing authority after they've read the handbook.
I really never intend to profit from these calls. I usually just feel sorry for the people and situation they're in (perceived or real) and try to help.
05-26-2012, 10:30 AM #14