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Owner of Joplin home damaged by tornado fights... - KOAM TV 7

Owner of Joplin home damaged by tornado fights to remove financial hold on her property

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A Joplin woman claims a dispute between her and her former contractor is preventing her from having more needed work done on her home.  It involves an argument over itemized construction and bills that may include a similar situation to others in the area.

Noel Hiltz's home in Joplin was damaged in the May 2011 tornado, but she says it was nothing "compared to the aftereffects of the tornado."

Hiltz hired Matthew Smith of J & M Smith Construction, LLC as a contractor in June 2011.

"I was getting red flags for a while because he was so slow," says Hiltz.

Hiltz says her home's roof was repaired about three months after work began on it and Smith was dishonest about his repairs.

In a letter to Hiltz's attorney, Smith claims the home's guest bathroom was never touched by his company because it wasn't in his contract.  But Hiltz showed us an itemized list from her insurance company that did list work in that room.

Hiltz fired Smith when work wasn't completed by the due date he gave.

Hiltz wants to hire another contractor, but says there's now a lien on her property.

A letter from an attorney representing Ridout Lumber Company of Joplin says "Ridout Lumber's claim includes materials furnished on and to the structure under contract with J & M Smith Construction."

"I can't get any insurance money from my mortgage company ever until there's been a lien release and that lien has been paid," says Hiltz.

Joplin Arvest Bank executive loan manager Stuart Puckett is not connected to this case, but he says "it's not only a dilemma for home owners, it's a dilemma for creditors."

Hiltz says Smith claims she owes him money to pay back that debt.

"If he's claiming there's some money owed then we want receipts and a bill of sale to prove that money is owed, then a check will be sent to him," says Hiltz, who claims Smith has never shown anyone those receipts.

We spoke with Smith by phone.  He says this is the only complaint against his company, although Missouri's Attorney General's office says there are three unresolved cases against him.

Hiltz says she's doing what she can to get rid of the lien she believes shouldn't be on her property in the first place.

In the meantime she says she's stuck in a home she won't be allowed to even sell.

Smith did not want to be interviewed on camera, saying he needed permission from his attorney.  Smith also said there's no longer a lien on the home.

We left a message with the lumber company's attorney, but have yet to hear back.

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