The Florida Homeowners’ Recovery Fund was created after Hurricane Andrew stuck Florida in 1993. The fund operates as a safety net for consumer recovery for those suffering monetary damage due to misconduct of a licensed contractor, abandonment of a project, or a fraudulent statement of a contractor on a construction, repair, or improvement project. Should a contractor fail to fully compensate an injured homeowner even after a judgment compels them to do so, the homeowner can seek recovery from the fund. With new legislation passed, more contractors will be included within the fund’s parameters beginning July 1, 2016. The changes to the Homeowners’ Construction Recovery Fund can be found here on page 18.
What claims are eligible?
In order to be eligible for a claim against the fund, a consumer must have previously received a final judgment or order of restitution against a contractor, financial officer, or business organization responsible for their loss. Before any money from the recovery fund can be paid out, the injured party must show that all attempts to recover some or all of the loss from assets of the injuring party have been made. All that can be recovered is the amount that has not yet been collected for actual or compensatory damages. Per claim payment limits are capped at $50,000 for Division I contractors, with lifetime aggregate limit of $500,000. The fund cannot be used to recover based on a claim against an unlicensed contractor, displaying Florida’s continued disfavor of unlicensed contractors. When a claim is made against a contractor, their license is suspended and will not be reinstated until the fund is repaid in full.
Originally, the fund only fielded claims for licensed Division I contractors, which includes eneral contractors, building contractors, and residential contractors. With recently passed legislation, Division II contractors will now fall under the parameters of the fund beginning July 1, 2016. These contractors include:
- sheet metal contractors;
- roofing contractors;
- class A, B, and C air conditioning contractors;
- mechanical contractors;
- commercial and residential pool and spa contractors
- pool and spa service contractors;
- underground utility and excavation contractors;
- solar contractors;
- pollutant storage systems contractors; and
- specialty contractors
The cap for Division II contractors now stands at $15,000 per claim with a $150,000 lifetime maximum per licensee.
The new legislation also allows homeowners who suffered damage resulting from making payments in violation of Florida lien law to bring claims.
Florida is a bit of a hotbed for lien law issues. From determining who is licensed, to creating insurance loopholes, Florida courts are constantly hearing cases in this area of the law.