KSL INVESTIGATES

Woman has lien slapped on home after contractor doesn’t pay sub

Nov 18, 2021, 1:17 PM | Updated: 1:45 pm

CEDAR CITY, Utah — Hiring a contractor and paying the bill isn’t always the end of the project. Cedar City resident Jennifer Curtis found this out the hard way.

Curtis said building her brand-new home was relatively easy.

“(It was) really smooth, everything went great,” she exclaimed. “Subs were here on time, everybody was paid quickly.”

Curtis said she and her family paid their final bills to the various contractors working on her home, closed the sale in June with a free title and moved in.

Out of the blue, Curtis received a letter from an attorney representing L&W Supply. They supplied her drywall contractor with the necessary supplies for her home. The letter indicated that the contractor never paid them, and they were now passing the bill to Curtis.

“$7,600,” Curtis said was the total of the bill. “And now lawyers’ fees and all of that, they’ve tacked on an extra $1,000.”

The letter told Curtis she needed to pay the balance, or a lien would be filed on her home. This could mean L&W Supply could opt to foreclose on Curtis’ new home in order to settle the debt if not paid.

Curtis reached out to the drywall contractor but received sad news.

“The owner had passed away from COVID,” said Curtis. “They didn’t have any money, basically, and they couldn’t help.”

Shortly thereafter, Curtis received another letter: a notice a lien had been filed on her home.

Curtis was one of many homeowners caught between a contractor and sub dispute.

Zach Whitney with the Utah Department of Commerce explained the problem became so common, state lawmakers set up a special fund to help both subs and homeowners resolve the issue: the Residence Lien Recovery Fund.

“The subcontractors could recover some of that money, and in turn, we could protect the homeowners from having to pay twice,” Whitney said.

When homeowners find themselves in Curtis’ situation, Whitney said they could file a claim with the Residence Lien Recovery Fund that would protect their home from the sub foreclosing on their property.

To qualify, Whitney said homeowners must have done three things: have hired a licensed contractor, paid the contractor in full, and live in the residence in question. If these criteria are met, the fund issues a certificate of compliance, which means the subcontractor cannot foreclose on the property to recover their lost funds.

Not everyone qualifies. For example, it won’t help those who own multi-dwelling units, like condos.

Whitney said subcontractors have rules to follow, including a strict timeline on when they can file a lien on the property, as well as suing the contractor for the balance.

While Whitney explained that homeowners must complete the process to avoid lien foreclosure, it didn’t come to that in Curtis’ case.

KSL Investigators reached out to L&W Supply and their lawyer. Neither wanted to comment on the situation but told us the company decided to drop the lien on the Curtis residence.

Whitney explained there are steps consumers can take to prevent this situation from happening. Making sure your contractor is licensed with the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing is a good start.

The Department of Commerce also operates the State Construction Registry. This database contains information on which subs your contractor is working with so consumers are aware of all the components in the construction process.

Action from the Utah Legislature in 2018 changed the previous requirement that contractors must pay into the Residence Lien Recovery Fund, essentially defunding it.

Currently, the Fund has $1.2 million left and is estimated to last the next three years at most.

Whitney told KSL Investigators there may be talk of more changes to the Fund in the upcoming 2022 General Session to address this lack of funding.


Have you experienced something you think just isn’t right? The KSL Investigators want to help. Submit your tip at investigates@ksl.com or 385-707-6153 so we can get working for you.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

KSL Investigates

...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

KSL Investigators help bank customer regain access to his money after fraud incident

KSL Investigators help a fraud victim gain access to his bank account after nearly a year of being locked out.
3 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

What are the rules for airline travel credits?

After canceling a beach vacation to Hawaii, a Utah woman believes she has $1,400 in flight credits. Ongoing flight cancellations have plagued the summer travel season, and a lot of travelers are being made whole with flight credits rather than refunds.
4 days ago
FILE PHOTO - Shown are a smartphone and computer....
Matt Gephardt

Can a company pull the rebate runaround?

When a West Valley City woman took up Verizon on a rebate offer to upgrade but could not get the rebate, she contacted the KSL Investigators for help.
10 days ago
FILE PHOTO...
Daniella Rivera

KSL Investigates: How is Utah’s new self-defense law impacting justice?

Is a new Utah self-defense law improving our justice system or leading to unintended consequences? The KSL Investigators analyzed a full year of cases.
11 days ago
...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage

Utah home sellers drop asking prices as market slows from a frenzied pace

For years, Utah has been one of the nation's hottest real estate markets, but now it appears to be cooling as sellers are slashing prices.
11 days ago
FILE (Getty Images)...
Matt Gephardt & Sloan Schrage, KSL TV

Gephardt Busts Inflation: How you can save money by switching from one of the big three wireless carriers to an MVNO

We have all heard of the big guys of wireless networks - Verizon, AT&T and T-Mobile. But many smaller carriers use the same infrastructure as the big three and for you that means you can get the service you need for much less by switching to one of the other guys.
14 days ago

Sponsored Articles

tips how to quit smoking...

7 Tips How to Quit Smoking | Quitting Smoking Might be One of the Hardest Things You Ever Do but Here’s Where You Can Start

Quitting smoking cigarettes can be incredibly difficult. Here are 7 tips how to quit smoking to help you on your quitting journey.
Photo: Storyblocks...
Blue Stakes of Utah 811

Blue Stakes of Utah 811: 5 Reasons To Call 811 Before You Dig When Working in Your Yard

Call before you dig. Even at home, you could end up with serious injuries or broken utilities just because you didn't call Blue Stakes of Utah 811.
Days of...
Days of '47 Rodeo

TRIVIA: How well do you know your rodeo? Take this quiz before you go to the Days of ’47!

The Utah Days of ’47 Rodeo presented by Zions Bank is a one-of-a-kind Gold Medal Rodeo being held July 20-23, 25 at 7:30 PM. The Days of ’47 Rodeo How well do you know your rodeo trivia? Take the quiz to test your know-all before heading out to the Days of ’47 Rodeo at the […]
cyber security through multi factor authentication setup...
Les Olson IT

How multi factor authentication setup helps companies stay safe

Multi factor authentication (MFA) setup is an important security measure that every company should implement for their workers. It’s also wise to install it for your personal and home accounts.
...
Lighting Design

Check out these stunning lamps with stained glass shades

Lamps with stained glass shades are statement pieces that are more than simply aesthetic. They also meet a functional requirement: to light up a room.
Address Bar of internet browser shows internet access...
AARP Utah

Utah voters 50+ support increased access to Internet

The AARP surveyed Utah voters aged 50 plus about internet access and if they support the expansion of broadband, especially in rural areas currently lacking it.
Woman has lien slapped on home after contractor doesn’t pay sub