TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A contractor at the center of a Better Call Behnken investigation appeared at a Hernando County special master hearing to answer tough questions.
Angel Diaz, the owner of Air Masters of Hernando LCC, admits he worked without a permit or license on at least two homes, but he blames his missing permit on a licensing paperwork jam that was caused by a federal government shutdown earlier this year.
Special Master Kenneth Warnstadt didn’t buy his excuse and issued fines and gave Diaz more time to fix his permitting issues.
“You can’t just proceed,” Warnstadt said. “You’re just stuck like everybody else that was without a job with the federal government.”
Diaz now works under a licensed contractor.
A Better Call Behnken report found Diaz should have never been paid for the work at another home earlier this year. The homeowner, Steve Maniaci, says he paid Diaz, but he never completed the work.
Diaz was employed to install a new air conditioning unit, which he did, and an energy-efficient front door, which was never installed, and insulation, which Maniaci says was not finished.
Maniaci says Diaz is on the hook for more than $37,000 in-home repairs. He turned to Better Call Behnken for help.
Maniaci got a loan through the Pace Program, which is paid back as a special assessment on his property taxes, and payments start on this year’s taxes.
Pace loans are supposed to protect homeowners because the funds are not released until all work is complete. But Maniaci claims Diaz told him to sign paperwork electronically so work could begin in February. But one of the forms said he had already completed the work.
That triggered Ygrene Energy Fund to release the funds. After this situation was brought to the lender’s attention, they fired Diaz as a contractor and vowed to help Maniaci get work finished, at Ygrene’s expense.
Ygrene sent this statement about Air Masters of Hernando LLC and Angel Diaz:
This is an unacceptable instance of contractor abuse of both the PACE program and a homeowner. The homeowner received all of the PACE program disclosures and participated in a verification call, which lasted more than 20 minutes. During the verification call, the homeowner confirmed his understanding of the financing terms, which made clear that he should not sign the completion document until all of the PACE contracted work was completed.
It’s important to note that the homeowner in this case has a dispute with the contractor he hired to perform work on his home. Ygrene merely provides the financing for PACE-eligible improvements. Issues related to the installation and workmanship are covered under a separate agreement between the homeowner and the contractor.
Ygrene takes consumer complaints very seriously and dedicates considerable resources to ensuring that we resolve issues. While this homeowner’s complaint is with his contractor, we have worked diligently with the homeowner to get his contractor to complete the work on his home. Because the contractor has not stepped forward to complete its work, Ygrene has terminated the contractor from Ygrene’s PACE program.”
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