Friday, April 08, 2016

Rogue Contractor Allegedly Left Homeowners, Subs High & Dry After Pocketing Deposits Peddling Over $1 Million Of Solar Panels While Failing To Complete Installations/Improvements; Stiffed Suppliers File Over 150 Mechanics' Liens, Leaving Homeowners In Position Of Having To Pay Twice For Incompleted Work

In Las Vegas, Nevada, the Las Vegas Sun reports:
  • Summerlin Energy Las Vegas, the subject of the largest investigation in the Nevada State Contractors Board’s history, had its license with the regulator revoked after a hearing [recently].

    The firm filed for bankruptcy last month, facing a lawsuit from a supplier that claimed it was owed more than $700,000 for parts and complaints from customers who said Summerlin Energy failed to finish work on their homes. The board began receiving complaints from customers last fall. It now has more than 100 complaints.
    ***
    [The] hearing lasted two hours but only dealt with a sliver of the complaints related to Summerlin Energy. It concerned nine complaints, such as abandonment of the project and failure to pay suppliers. Several Summerlin Energy customers, who served as witnesses, testified that the company had failed to install or complete the installation of solar panels, even when they had paid hefty deposits or the cost of the entire project.

    Solar panels can cost as much as $50,000.
    ***
    Customers have few options for recourse. The board has a recovery fund, but it is capped at $400,000.(1) Many customers believe they are unlikely to see any funds from the bankruptcy. Customers could, however, pursue separate litigation against the company.

    In addition to customers, at least two companies had filed complaints with the contractors board, which was established in the 1940s. Both matters were taken up at [the recent] hearing.

    Summerlin Energy had failed to pay the two companies — Sun Valley Electric Supply Co. and Soligent — for equipment and solar panels that the companies had supplied and delivered to Summerlin Energy. Sun Valley Electric said it was owed more than $725,000 and Soligent said it was owed about $500,000 in missed payments.

    The missed payments have had a trickle-down effect on customers.

    Both suppliers have placed liens, ranging from $1,000 to more than $20,000, on Summerlin Energy customers’ homes, which is a statutory right of subcontractors. This has put some customers in the position of having to pay twice, once to Summerlin Energy for the panels and a second time to the subcontractor for the lien.

    As of early March, the two companies had cumulatively placed more than 150 liens on homes, according to Clark County records.

    According to its bankruptcy filing, Summerlin Energy had clients in Arizona, California and Texas. The contractors board in California said it had an open investigation targeting the firm.
For the story, see Bankrupt Las Vegas solar installer loses license to contract.
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(1) The Nevada Residential Recovery Fund was established to offer protection for Nevada homeowners who contract with licensed contractors and, under certain conditions, are harmed by failure of that contractor to properly perform qualified services. All Nevada-licensed contractors and sub-contractors, who engage in residential construction, pay a semi-annual assessment into the Residential Recovery Fund. The Nevada State Contractors Board has been charged with the responsibility of administering the Fund.

Owner-occupants of single-family residences who contract with residential contractors for the performance of any construction, remodeling, repair or improvement. The claimant must be able to show the Board that he/she has suffered a reimbursable loss, which resulted from the conduct of a licensed contractor. The claimant may also request payment when he/she has sued the general contractor in civil court and obtained a judgment, which has not been paid by the contractor and remains unsatisfied. The law provides that the maximum amount paid for a claim against the Recovery Fund cannot exceed $35,000.

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