January 2014 Archives

Who is Responsible for Paying Post-Petition Condominium Association Assessments?

If you want to file bankruptcy and no longer be responsible for a mortgage, this is often possible. However, many mortgage companies have begun refusing to foreclose because they realize that they will likely end up owning the home and they do not want the risks and responsibilities that come with home ownership. This is especially true with cases that include condominium units in less desirable neighborhoods. The problem is that when a foreclosure does not occur, a bankruptcy filer or debtor will still own the property. So, who does the Condominium Association or Homeowner's Association look to for payment of its assessments? The homeowner, of course!

What am I Required to Put into my D.C. Home Improvement Contract?

  • Any agreement between a homeowner and a contractor must be put in writing, shall be filled in and signed by the contractor or its salesperson in at least triplicate, on a form which has all blank spaces filled in with easily legible writing and the contractor or salesperson has submitted to the owner the completed contract or other document and given the homeowner a reasonable opportunity to examine it.
  • The names and license number of all salespersons who participated in negotiating the contract shall be inserted in the contract, in the space provided for the purpose, and they shall be identified in the contract as the participating salespersons.
  • The homeowner shall, at the time of the homeowner's signing the contract, be Furnished an original or copy of the document bearing both the homeowner's signature and the signature of a salesperson. Thereafter, upon the execution of the contract by the contractor, the homeowner shall be furnished a copy of the contract executed both by the homeowner and by the contractor.
  • If the contract contains a provision that the contract shall not be binding until accepted by the contractor, the contractor shall, within fifteen (15) days after the contract has been executed by the homeowner, unless a later date is agreed upon between the contractor and the homeowner in writing, give the homeowner written notice of acceptance or rejection. Notice of acceptance or rejection shall be delivered to the homeowner either personally or by certified or registered mail.
  • Each contract for home improvement work shall bear the name, address, and telephone number of the home improvement contractor and his home improvement contractor's license number.
  • Each contract shall include a description of the terms of payment, the approximate date on which the work required by the contract is to start, and the approximate date on which the work will be completed, such starting and completion dates to be subject to change at the time the contract is accepted by the contractor and at no other time (except by written agreement between the homeowner and the contractor), with notice of any such change to be set forth in the written notice of acceptance of the contract furnished the homeowner by the contractor.
  • A set of specifications shall be made part of the contract, either by inclusion in the contract or by being incorporated in the contract by reference, showing the work to be done and the materials to be used. There shall be no change in specifications without the written approval of the homeowner.
  • Each contract shall contain a notice satisfactory to the Director of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs in bold type no smaller than ten (10) point stating in substance that the homeowner shall not sign the contract in blank and that the homeowner is entitled to a copy of the contract at the time he or she signs.
  • Generally, unless a contractor presents a proposal, attempt to sell a home improvement or negotiate a contract at a homeowner's home, the contract must designate the date of the transaction on which the buyer actually signs and contains the following statement:

A conspicuous heading which says: "BUYERS RIGHT TO CANCEL" and below that reads:

Exempting Property In Bankruptcy

A couple of common misperceptions of the bankruptcy process are that: 1. a person filing bankruptcy has to give up their property or that 2. a person filing bankruptcy can keep an unlimited amount of property and not have to repay debt. The reality is that you can generally keep all property which you can exempt and which is not the subject of a lien (i.e. mortgage or car loan). Additionally, you can keep more property if you pay for it in your bankruptcy plan.

How Enforceable is a Pay-When-Paid Clause?

A "pay-when-paid" clause in a construction contract is a provision that applies the payment terms of the contract between the property owner and the general contractor to the contract between the general contractor and sub-contractor. Often times, a general contractor will use this clause as a basis for refusing payment to a sub-contractor because the general contractor claims it has not been paid for the sub-contractor's work.

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