Verbal agreement between friends gone wrong

By Evrod Cassimy - bio | email

PETERSBURG, VA (WWBT) - From the outside the home looks like any other in Petersburg. But on the inside, it serves as a lesson learned when it comes to working with friends.

The homeowner, is now out of a place to live after she says she entered into a verbal agreement with a man she trusted.

"This was the living room and there was a section that cut it off and there was the dining room," said Tracy Stewart.

Nearly three weeks ago, Stewart lived in the home passed down from her now deceased mother, with her three children. After running into a childhood friend, Roderick Wilkerson, they made an agreement to renovate it completely. She says he agreed to work for free. Tracy says she agreed to pay for the supplies.

"The kitchen, he was going to make it open so it could look like it was more spacious but he took out the sink and put it in here," she said.

Somewhere along the lines the agreement went sour.

"I just lost communication with him. He wasn't answering my phone calls, my text messaging," she said. "It was supposed to be perfect and I thought it was going to be perfect but I didn't know he was the type of person who would do me and my family like this I had no idea. I trusted him."

While Tracy hasn't spoken to her former friend in weeks. We called him.

"Hi Rick, this is Evrod Cassimy with NBC 12."

And he showed up to offer his side of the story.

"She asked me to help her out and I tried to help her out but we couldn't see term to term on certain things so I told her you know, get somebody else to do it," Wilkerson said. "I was accused of I guess stealing and I didn't like that."

And while Tracy's house is left unfinished and she has no more money to hire a professional, NBC12 legal analyst Steve Benjamin thinks she doesn't have much of an argument.

"She didn't give up anything. His was an act of kindness, perhaps an act of charity or an act of friendship and she gave up nothing in return. That's not a contract," Benjamin said.

"You can't leave somebody like this. You're the one...for you to do this to me and my family right?," Tracy said.

Benjamin has found that an agreement between even the best of friends is better in writing so it can be enforced by law. He also suggests paying a friend for their services so there is record of the verbal agreement. Of course if you're if you question any particular arrangement it's best to consult with an attorney.

"Once somebody has halfway demolished your house you need to make sure you stay in very good relations with them if they're just doing it as a favor," Benjamin said.

Roderick Wilkerson told me he has no intentions of working out the situation after their disagreement. Right now Tracy is living in a room at her sisters home until she can save up the money needed to complete the remodeling project.

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