Two homeowners say they paid thousands of dollars to a contractor but have nothing to show for it.
Rene Gonzalez contacted NBC 6 Responds after he says he paid $4,200 to a contractor who never returned to do the job he paid for.
Gonzalez says he wanted to upgrade his backyard by replacing an old fence with a new one.
“This guy posted advertising on social media and I was looking to perform a fence job in my backyard,” Gonzalez said.
A quick search online and he says he found Yonak Fences, Inc.
“He contacted me and said he had a price for me, and he would like to meet with me. We spoke, I thought he was an honest guy, and we arranged a price,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says he met with Yonak Rodriguez and in August he signed a contract agreeing to pay $8,460 for the job. He paid $4,200 upfront in a deposit.
“He cashed the check, and he was supposed to go straight to the supplier to buy the supplies,” Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez says that didn’t happen. For months, he says, Rodriguez offered excuses on why he couldn’t return to do the work.
Gonzalez called NBC 6 Responds for help.
We found out Yonak Rodriguez does not hold a contractor license with the state, Miami-Dade County, or Broward County.
Other homeowners have filed complaints against Rodriguez.
NBC 6 Responds heard from another homeowner who says Rodriguez owes her money after he damaged her property while trying to install a fence.
Florida’s Office of Attorney General has received two complaints from Miami Gardens homeowners against Yonak Fences. One homeowner stated they lost $4,000 and wrote in the complaint “He takes consumers deposit and doesn't complete the work.”
In Miami-Dade County, the contractor enforcement unit has two open complaints against Rodriguez. A spokesperson told us one of the complaints has been filed as a felony grand theft.
When we reached out to Rodriguez through email, he told us in part, “This pandemic hurt me a lot and it was bad for the clients but my intention is to fulfill the commitments until the end.”
He also told us he has reached an agreement to pay back the two homeowners who called us.
Gonzalez says he is yet to get any money back from Rodriguez.
Despite the setbacks, Gonzalez finished his fence—but it came at a cost.
“I actually had to go to my 401k to get the money, it’s a lot of money,” Gonzalez said.
He now has this message for other homeowners.
“I wish I would have performed the research before giving him the money, and that is my advice for everyone," Gonzalez said. "Do your research before.”
After our calls to Rodriguez, he returned $500 to one of the homeowners who reached out to us. The two homeowners who called us are still yet to receive full refunds.
Being unlicensed could be a red flag. Rodriguez didn’t deny he has been working without a license but says he has been working under another contractor’s license.
If you are planning on hiring a contractor, it’s a good idea to research the contractor ahead of time. Make sure they are licensed for the work you are hiring them for. If you do put down a deposit, try to pay no more than 10 percent. Also, using a credit card can offer some added protections.