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Need Guidance

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1forcole

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Maryland
I am new to the forum and would like your help. I was an independent contractor for an appraisal firm for the past 14 years. Recently, with out any warning the work stopped coming. (surprise, surprise!). Here is my problem.
The owner of the company installed the appraisal program on my home computer. This holds all my files. I then emailed them to their office and they reviewed report, signed it, and send it to the lender. They also have all my hard copies of my files. (I know I was stupid, but thought I would be working for them forever!).

Now, the owner of the company is saying I have to remove the program from my computer. I did not sign anything when it was installed. I believed this was a put on my computer for me to keep the files I had done.
He has gone so far as to deduct money per day from what they owe me until I remove the program.

My questions are:
Am I required by law to remove this program? Can I get my signature card back?
Can he legally deduct money from jobs I have done until the program is removed?
Appreciate your help!
 

Ed Falkowski MAI SRA

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 25, 2007
Professional Status
Certified General Appraiser
State
Pennsylvania
I am new to the forum and would like your help. I was an independent contractor for an appraisal firm for the past 14 years. Recently, with out any warning the work stopped coming. (surprise, surprise!). Here is my problem.
The owner of the company installed the appraisal program on my home computer. This holds all my files. I then emailed them to their office and they reviewed report, signed it, and send it to the lender. They also have all my hard copies of my files. (I know I was stupid, but thought I would be working for them forever!).

Now, the owner of the company is saying I have to remove the program from my computer. I did not sign anything when it was installed. I believed this was a put on my computer for me to keep the files I had done.
He has gone so far as to deduct money per day from what they owe me until I remove the program.

My questions are:
Am I required by law to remove this program? Can I get my signature card back?
Can he legally deduct money from jobs I have done until the program is removed?
Appreciate your help!

1forcole,

In all seriousness, you will not find any lawyers on here. I highly suggest that you find one and explain your story to them. Am I reading your post correctly - you performed the work, e-mailed it to them and they signed the report? Did they sign it with your signature or were they required to co-sign with you? I'm hoping the latter instead of the former... :unsure: This sounds extremely fishy to me and something which may open you up to a good deal of liability. I wish you luck.
 

Charles Witt

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2002
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Delaware
Control of Signature

1forcole: You mean you axtually gave up control of your signature. Seek an attorney fast....... This could come back to haunt you up to five years from now...........
 
Joined
Jul 15, 2003
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Connecticut
1) Sure dont sound like an independent contractor more like an employee.
2) Best solution regarding the software, back up all critical data (files) and buy your own copy of the software can upload all your files back on to your computer. If you do not know how call the software company, atlest you will have a copy of your computer files.
3) submit a letter to your former company for your files, if they do not give them back and claim it is their property move to #4.
4) Call your state employee board and submit a complain regarding your pay, submit a complain to IRS regarding your employee status.
 
Joined
Jun 3, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Colorado
1forcole --

Welcome to the forum!

I'm not sure your former employer can force you to remove the program from your computer, and they are on even shakier ground in reducing payments to you pending the program removal. The best thing for you to do is buy your own copy of the software, and overwrite the supervisor's program. If you want to change vendors, that makes it a little stickier -- but either way, you need your own software.

As for your supervisor storing all of your files, I think a firm request that they give you a copy (and delete your signature) is the next step. If they refuse, ask them if they would like to discuss the matter with the state appraisal board; my guess is their reluctance would disappear rather quickly.

Good Luck!
 

Mike Millson

Sophomore Member
Joined
Dec 23, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Virginia
Now you want to know your legal rights. Or what can or can not be done as you say "by law' to you. It sounds like very little of what you've done in the last 14 years was done "legally" as far as appraising goes. Good Luck
 

Lloyd Bonafide

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 15, 2006
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
California
I would contact an attorney ASAP. It agree that it doesn't sound like you are independent contractor, if they are trying to force you to remove something from your computer. The company could be looking at a huge tax liability if the IRS considers you to be an employee.
 

1forcole

Thread Starter
Freshman Member
Joined
Jan 17, 2008
Professional Status
Licensed Appraiser
State
Maryland
Thank you all for responding so quickly.
I did recently purchase my own program once I realized that I was not going to be doing any more work for them, however I purchased the Wintotal program, not ACI and was hoping not to add to the expense of another program. I am not using the ACI program now, other than as a means to store my appraisals and database that I have developed over the years. They are claiming it is their database(?).
I also want to be clear that they signed (with my signature) from their office and sent the report to the lender after reviewing and also signing as a supervisor. I do not believe that I have done anything illegal. I am sorry I don't mean to appear naive, but I had started in this business with them, had even brought them accounts over the years, and had every reason to believe that I would be working with them while I was in the industry. This is the way it was always done by their office. I am not the only appraiser working for them and completing the reports this way.
 

Eli Weiss

Senior Member
Joined
Nov 28, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
New York
This confirms what I always thought, the appraisal mills are worse then the AMC's, they tread their employees like s***, they grab large portions of the local work, and offer insulting fees to AMC's that independent fee appraisers can't compete......

If we start a war on AMC's, the mills should go first.....
Most poorly trained appraises, hatched from the mills.....
 

Webbed Feet

Elite Member
Joined
Feb 11, 2005
Professional Status
Certified Residential Appraiser
State
Canada
<snip>
My questions are:
Am I required by law to remove this program? Can I get my signature card back?
Can he legally deduct money from jobs I have done until the program is removed?
Appreciate your help!

<snip> I also want to be clear that they signed (with my signature) from their office and sent the report to the lender after reviewing and also signing as a supervisor. I do not believe that I have done anything illegal.

1forcole,

No, you just set yourself up for dangerous use of your signature.

I think before anyone here can help we all need to know an answer to a question. Did you EVER bother to learn about your state's administrative rules? They may be more restrictive than USPAP.

You should agree to remove the software. He should agree with you in writing to allow you access to the hard copy work files in the event you must have them for administrative compliance. He should return control of your signature to you immediately (you should have never given that up!) He should agree to restore the money he owes you. Both of you should end this p.i.s.s.i.n.g match before both of you get yourselves in trouble with your state board for being dorks.

If he will not be reasonable on the above, I would inform him I never paid any taxes on all he paid me and he can expect a call from the IRS next. Or he can wake up and resolve this in a manner you both desparately need it resolved in.

Webbed.
 
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