Did you know that Virginia has a law which requires all licensed contractors to contribute towards a fund that helps victims of fraud and dishonest conduct? While many states have similar consumer laws, Virginia also includes Property Owners Associations as potential victims. (We don’t know why condominium associations are not included but it is on our “to do” list.) The Contractor Recovery Fund (aka Santa) reimburses qualified applicants up to $20,000.00 in cases where the contractor has engaged in “wrongful taking or conversion of money, property or other things of value which involves fraud, material misrepresentation or conduct constituting gross negligence, continued incompetence, or intentional violation of the Uniform Statewide Building Code…” Virginia Code § 54.1-1118. So if a contractor collected a deposit and never came back to do the work and you can’t find him, there might be a chance to get that money back. The process is a bit technical but worth the effort if you have a substantial amount involved.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure so the best way to protect yourself is to use only licensed contractors to do work at your house or Association. You can check if a contractor is licensed by going to http://www.dpor.virginia.gov/LicenseLookup/ . SEVA-CAI, our local Virginia Chapter of Community Associations Institute, also has member contractors who have experience with residential and commercial property and community associations, therefore understanding the nature and dynamics of community associations and how best to serve them. A good place to start looking for contracting professionals is SEVA-CAI’s Online Membership Directory.
Finally, if you do find yourself in hot water with a bad contractor, call the Community Associations Team at Inman & Strickler, 757-486-7055. We can help.