What is my recourse for work done by an unlicensed “electrician”?

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What is my recourse for work done by an unlicensed “electrician”?

Last year I purchased a home with aluminum wiring. Our inspection resolution part of the contract stated that the wiring must be repaired by a “licensed and competent” electrician. The seller’s counter (accepted) was to provide “a minimum of 3 bids by licensed and competent electricians”. We used one of the electricians recommended by the seller’s real estate agent. After an electrical fire in the basement we discovered that the electrician did a horrible job using illegal connectors and was not, in fact, a licensed electrician. Can i sue the seller for breach of contract? What aare my rights against the real estate agent? Electrician will not pay if sued.

Asked on October 4, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Colorado

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You could sue the seller and the real estate agent for breach of contract for providing an unlicensed electrician when the contract term required a "licensed and competent" electrician.  The real estate agent was acting as the agent of the seller and therefore is liable for breach of contract.

You can also sue the electrician for negligence.  The fact that the electrician "won't pay if sued" should not deter you from filing a lawsuit against the electrician.  If you get a judgment against the electrician, you can enforce the judgment by a wage garnishment or other measures such as a lien on property owned by the electrician.  The negligence claim against the electrician would be based not only on the work that was improperly done, but also on violation of a statute which requires an electrician to be licensed; provided that there is a statute of that nature in your state.

You would file one lawsuit naming the seller, real estate agent and electrician as defendants.  Your lawsuit would have separate causes of action (claims) for breach of contract and negligence.  Your damages (the amount you are seeking to recover in your lawsuit) would be the cost of repairs.  You will need to mitigate (minimize) damages by hiring an electrician charging a rate comparable to what other electricians are charging in your area.  You would not be able to hire the most expensive electrician you can find to do the work.  If you were to select the most expensive electrician you can find to do the work, your damages will be reduced accordingly.


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