February 20, 2012
Ask the Attorney: Consumer Law, Landlord/Tenant
~ written by Peter Ezanidis, Esq.
Regarding Consumer Law Claims:
Q. This is the time of year where a lot of door to door solicitation begins for everything from wind and hail damage repair to a home, or driveway sealing, patio installation etc., What do consumers do to protect themselves from scams?
A. Make sure any solicitation, offer or estimate is made in writing. If you agree to services from a company, make sure the written agreement you sign contains a statement in bold face that you have a "Three Day Right to Cancellation" so that you are free to change your mind. Never allow anyone to begin performing services until those 3 days expire, and do not provide advanced payment until the expiration period.
Q. If a homeowner discovers property damage whether storm related or otherwise, what should they do if their homeowners insurance gives them an estimate that is less than the repair cost?
A. Most standard homeowners policies allow you to take the adverse insurance decision to an umpire. You should go out and get your own estimate done from a licensed or reputable contractor and compare it to the estimate offered by the insurer. If the umpire or arbitrator sides with the insurance company, you can also file a complaint with the Ohio Department of Insurance and often they will attempt to work a settlement among the parties.
Landlord Tenant Issues:
Q. What if a tenant has a landlord that is unresponsive, or unwilling to address damage or repair issues that exist on the property?
A. The tenant should give the landlord notice of the damage or repair issue and by law give them a "reasonable" time to correct, usually no more than 30 days. If the landlord does not address the issue or does not make a suitable correction, you should contact the Franklin County Municipal Court, and escrow your rent until the landlord remedies the conditions. Make sure you deposit the rent on time, and in full with the Clerk of Courts otherwise the escrow is not valid.
Each week, the Columbus Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service partners with WSYX-TV's 6 on Your Side to staff the "Ask the Attorney" program. Volunteer lawyers handle calls on everything from adoptions to zoning. Call "Ask the Attorney" with your legal question on Wednesdays between 5:00pm and 7:00pm at 614/481.6678.