Q: Is there a penalty for backing out of an agreement for an HVAC project that has not started?
I signed a "proposal and purchase agreement" for HVAC work for my home. I signed it on March 15, work is originally scheduled for March 30-April 3 but I had to postpone it until end of April. However, with the economic uncertainty due the pandemic, I might back out of this agreement altogether.
Again, the HVAC work has not started. There is a fine print that says: "You the buyer, may cancel this transaction at any time prior to midnight of the third business day after the date of this transaction."
Apparently you did not cancel the contract within 3 days, which, theoretically, locks you into it.
As you know these COVID-19 times are very uncertain, and we don't know how the courts are going to rule on the multitude of cases affected by the pandemic that are now before the court, or will come before the court.
Contracts often have a 'force majeure clause' which relieves either party from performing on the contract based upon circumstances that are applicable. Even if there is not such a clause it is a valid defense.
I suggest that you contact the contractor and not try to cancel the contract but agree to delay commencement until these uncertain times become more normalized. You are not waiving your defenses even if there is an agreement to delay performance.
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