Spring Hill man stuck with $37K tax assessment for uncompleted energy efficient repairs

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TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Steve Maniaci turned to Better Call Behnken for help after realizing he’s on the hook for more than $37,000 in energy efficient home repairs, even though the job is uncompleted.

And the kicker: the loan is through the Pace Program, and paid back as a special assessment on his property taxes, and payments start on this year’s taxes.

Maniaci says that once his contractor was paid by the financing company in February, work stalled. However, he said he didn’t realize the contractor had been paid because the funds are not supposed to be released until all work is complete.

“I don’t know what else to do,” Maniaci said. “I feel deceived.”

Angel Diaz of Air Masters of Hernando County returned one call from Better Call Behnken weeks ago and vowed to finish the job. He hasn’t, though, and now calls go unanswered.

Investigative Reporter Shannon Behnken discovered Diaz should have never been paid in February. That’s because under the Pace program, contractors are to be paid only when work is complete.

However, the financing company in this case, Ygrene Energy Fund, confirmed Diaz’ company was paid in February after Maniaci signed many forms, including one that stated work was completed.

“I didn’t realize the form said that,” Maniaci said. “I was told I had just one more form to sign, if I had realized that, I would have never signed it.”

Maniaci said he takes responsibility for not realizing what he signed, however, he said he feels deceived and should not be stuck paying for uncompleted work.

This all started when Maniaci needed a new air conditioning unit. He says Air Masters’ Angel Diaz talked him into upgrading his aging home using the energy program, Pace.

It sounded like a great deal because the price would be added as a special assessment to his taxes and payments would begin one year after all work was completed.

“It sounded good,” Maniaci said. “Nothing was coming out of my pocket.”

Shortly after the a.c. and pool pump and part of the insulation was put in, Maniaci says work stalled and he received excuses.

“No one would call, so by the end of the week, I’d start calling him, ‘Angel, are you coming?’ He’d blow me off. The whole weekend goes by, never saw him, never heard from him.”

Better Call Behnken contacted Ygrene Energy Fund and the company investigated the situation and sent this statement:

“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.”

In addition, Maniaci tells me Ygrene representatives called him and offered to help get the work done. The company sent a contractor to his house Monday morning to access the situation.

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