Call Kurtis Investigates: How Can A Contractor With Suspended License File Lien On A Home?

ROCKLIN (CBS13) — Rocklin resident Yve Onomoto says her contractor did not finish the job and then filed a lien. When she realized he had a suspended contractor’s license it was time to Call Kurtis.

The Onomoto has used contractor John Pitman in the past for home improvements, and at that time, he had a valid license.

Onomoto said he did good work, so they hired him again, but this time she describes a very different experience.

“I think it’s awful,” she said.

This time, Onomoto says Pitman’s work was incomplete, and the two-week job turned into months.

Paying Pitman $2,300, Onomoto refused to hand over the final $6,000 until he fixed the problems and completed the work.

“We told him to come back. Finish up. And we’ll give you the rest of the money,” said Onomoto.

Instead, she says Pitman filed a mechanics’ lien, a claim against her home, which could lead to foreclosure or keep her from selling it.

“I was fuming. I was fuming,” said Onomoto.

According to the Contractor’s State License Board, the job was illegal from the beginning because Pitman’s license was suspended.

“They should not have the rights to file a mechanics lien to get paid,” said Rick Lopes with the CSLB.

So if the job was illegal, how was this lien recorded?

Construction attorney Ken Grossbart says it is actually easy to file a mechanics’ lien, and it is not always on the level.

“I think it can be used as a bully process at times,” said Grossbart.

All you need is an address, pay a fee, fill out a report, and the county records the lien.

What if you don’t owe the money?

Grossbart says it will cost you to fight it and only harms you if you are trying to sell or refinance.

He suggests, “Just sit on it. You’re not going to lose your property,” he said.

Grossbart says if contractors do not start the foreclosure process within 90 days, the lien technically expires, which happened in this case.

However, Pitman ended up suing the Onomotos in small claims court.

Pitman told the judge that the Onomotos refused to pay him for the work.

The Onomotos pushed back saying that his license was suspended and he did not complete the work.

Pitman claims he was licensed and is appealing the CSLB’s claim he was not.

The judge postponed the case until the CSLB appeal is heard.

We caught up with Pitman outside the courtroom. “I believe that the Onomotos are trying to basically get a free floor installed,” he said.

But the Onomotos say not true; they just want the job done.

“We’re going to have another licensed contractor come in here to correct his errors,” said Onomoto.

The CSLB fined Pitman $4,750 over the Onomoto case and say his license was suspended because Pitman owed money to a bond company.

Pitman is appealing with a hearing set for Nov. 7 then this case goes back to small claims court in December.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Sounds like the contractor has trumps business practices.

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