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Question DetailsAsked on 9/13/2017

Can a company hold you accountable for signing a blank roofing proposal agreement

A Storm Chaser company came to my house and misrepresented themselves. They had me sign a roofing proposal saying that it was a release for them to talk with my insurance company.
I have been working with my insurance company and now they sent me an email saying I owe them $2000 because we haven't started the work with them to get the roof done. This paper was blank with nothing filled out other than my name and address and signature, of course. Failure on my part not to read the paper, but he said it was just so he could talk to my insurance guy. If my insurance says we cannot use them, can that be null and void for this agreement?

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Of course for legal matters like this you should probably have an attorney looking out for your interests - and of course any communications with the contractor (which should ALL be in writing from this point on) will carry a lot more weight if they come from an attorney.


Depends of course on the fine print on the document, and whether it has the proper form to be a contract - basically identifying the parties to the contract, signed by both parties and dated, scope of work description (which might be as brief as "repair/replace storm damage to roof"), typically the work location address or legal description (though some courts have held the name of the homeowner is enough to presume the work is to be done at their property, especially for a repair scope of work), time period for performance, and one of the most crucial things which might be missing in this case - the compensation - what you are paying for the work. Though storm-chaser documents commonly state something like they will accept whatever the insurance company grants on your claim plus your deductible plus any disallowed depreciation or amortization if your policy is depreciated rather than replacement coverage.


[More on the depreciated versus replacement cost issue in many previous questions with answers about storm damaged roofs and storm chaser contracts can be found in the Home > Roofing link under Browse Projects, at lower left.]


In addition to possible loopholes in the "contract" which might render it invalid as a contract, your attorney could help you pursue several other (at least) defenses on this:


1) that it was misrepresented to you as just an authorization to talk to the insurance company but was more, so that is a case of fraudulent misrepresentation and would normally result in a judge throwing it out.


2) unless the contract included an assignment of benefits, if you tell the insurance company of this misrepresentation they may refuse to deal with the vendor, meaning since he cannot receive any payment from them he obviously would not do the work, so the contract becomes unfulfillable and hence voidable.


3) if there were significant elements of the contract not filled in, then it would likely not be a valid contract


4) if they are not legally licensed as proper type of contractor (roofer or general contractor in most states) for your locale, that could also be basis for cancelling the contract - ditto if not bonded/insured per law if required in your area.


5) even if the federal 3 day cooling-off period (explained below) has gone by, if they did not provide the required disclosure on that in the "contract" that could also make it still cancellable by you because generally (lawyer can detail the specifics for you) until they give you that disclosure OR you allow them to start work, you can still cancel.


On the $2000 - unless there was a specific provision in the contract about a cancellation fee of $2000, they cannot just demand $2000 - they would have to prove their actual costs to date on the job (probably zero) or go to court to get a judgement for the cancellation. Also - unless there was a specific timeframe for the work in the contract, that might be an out for you too, depending on how that issue was phrased, on the basis you do not have to process the release of the insurance money in a specific timeframe.


Obviously, sounds like you do not want to continue with this contractor.


You of course could respond back (using certified return receipt, signature-required certified mail, and keep a copy of what is sent) that they misrepresented what the paper was that you were signing so you are cancelling the contract, and if they persist in their demand for payment you will file criminal fraud charges against them. Or you could just go to the local/state consumer fraud office and file the fraud charge outright - ditto to filing a complaint with the stagte contractor licensing board if roofers have to be licensed in your state. But again, having it on an attorney's letterhead (typically $150-250 for an initial cease-and-desist and revocation of contract letter) will carry more weight.


One other possibility, though time frame for that is probably gone by - you have a federal 3 day cancellation or "cooling off" window (google on cancellation method rules) IF this service was sold to you at a place other than the vendor's place of business. So if they came to your home for instance to sign this document, there is at least a 3 day cancellation period by you (more in a few states by state law).


BTW - if you do not want to work with this contractor do not allow him to bring ANY materials to your home or do ANYTHING there - measurements or anything - because that is a common ploy to "start work" on the job, which if you allow it givers them at least an implied approval by uyou for them to go ahead with the work, which would be shooting yourself in the foot.


Good Luck

Answered 1 year ago by LCD




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