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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
October 13, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Consumer Affairs
- Kimberly Ricketts, Director

 

Jeff Lamm, Genene Morris
973-504-6327
Consumer Information
973-504-6200

 

17,000 Home Improvement Contractors Submit Registration Applications
Final Deadline is December 31

NEWARK — Attorney General Peter C. Harvey and Consumer Affairs Director Kimberly Ricketts today announced that more than 17,000 home improvement contractors have filed applications to register with the Division of Consumer Affairs.

The Contractors’ Registration Act requires home improvement contractors to register with Consumer Affairs by December 31, 2005. Contractors who fail to register by this deadline will be prohibited from making or selling home improvements in New Jersey and barred from obtaining local construction permits until they become registered. In addition, they may face civil monetary penalties as well as possible criminal charges if they continue to do home improvements while unregistered. In order to register, a contractor must disclose the location of his/her business and reveal past criminal convictions, among other requirements.

"This law is designed to enhance consumer protections. It is not our intention to disrupt home improvement contractors and I’m heartened that more than 17,000 contractors have acted on our advice to submit registration applications ahead of the December 31 deadline. I urge the remaining home improvement contractors to submit their registration applications now," Acting Governor Richard J. Codey said.

"Having a pickup truck and wearing a tool belt does not make someone a contractor," Attorney General Harvey said. "But con artists dress the part and they prey on trusting homeowners.

"The con artist typically knocks on the door, says he is working in the neighborhood, has extra materials on hand and can offer a great deal. The homeowner gives a deposit, usually a few hundred dollars, and never sees the supposed ‘contractor’ again. The registration process is designed to deter this type of scam," the Attorney General added.

"We received more complaints about home improvements last year than any other category that we track," Director Ricketts noted. "Our homes are typically our largest single asset, as well as a place of security and comfort. That’s why people feel so violated and victimized by home improvement scams and frauds. Honest home improvement contractors also want these criminals weeded out."

The Contractors' Registration Act:

  • Requires home improvement contractors — those who engage in the business of making or selling home improvements including remodeling, altering, painting, renovating, repairing, restoring, modernizing, or demolishing residential or non-commercial property— to register annually with Consumer Affairs.
  • Bars anyone who is not registered, unless they’re exempted from the registration requirements, from engaging in business as a home improvement contractor, or advertising that they are home improvement contractors.
  • Bars municipalities from issuing construction permits to contractors who are not registered or exempted from the registration requirements.
  • Requires every contractor to post its registration numbers on all New Jersey advertisements, contracts and correspondence with customers and all leased or owned commercial vehicles registered in New Jersey.
  • Requires a written contract when the improvement work exceeds $500. The contract must detail all terms and conditions, including among other things the legal name, business address and registration number of the contractor; a copy of the certificate of commercial general liability insurance; and the total price or other consideration to be paid by the consumers, including finance charges.
  • Gives consumers three days to cancel a home improvement contract by giving the contractor written notice of cancellation. Contractors must refund to the consumer any money paid within 30 days of receiving the written notice of cancellation.
  • Requires applicants for registration to disclose to Consumer Affairs if they’ve been convicted of a crime.
  • Requires contractors to file proof that they have secured commercial general liability insurance in a minimum of $500,000 per occurrence.
  • Provides that anyone who knowingly violates the Act is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. In addition, anyone who violates the Act is also subject to civil monetary penalties under the Consumer Fraud Act of up to $10,000 for the first offense and up to $20,000 for each subsequent offense.

Contractors who have questions about the Contractors’ Registration Act can call Consumers Affairs at 1-888-656-6225. Additional information also is available on the Consumer Affairs’ Web site, www.NJConsumerAffairs.gov
Consumers who want to find out information about a contractor or submit a complaint can call Consumer Affairs at 1-800-242-5846.


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