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Homeowners Have Rights! Understanding Your Rights (and the Contractor’s Obligations) under the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

By:      Matthew H. Fry, Esquire

On July 1, 2009, the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (the “Act”) took effect in Pennsylvania. This law requires most home improvement contractors to register with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office. Additionally, these contractors must maintain minimum insurance coverage and utilize contracts that comply with a number of consumer protection requirements specified in this law.

Although this law has been in effect for over eight years, many home improvement contractors have yet to fully comply with its requirements, and most homeowners still do not know their rights under the law.  While most home improvement contractors are aware of the registration requirements, what is often not done is to include the required provisions in any home improvement contract with a homeowner.  Failure to include all of the requirements could result in an unenforceable contract and may limit or preclude the amount a contractor can recover for work performed.
Some of the information required under the Act that needs to be included is as follows:

    1.   The complete agreement between the parties, with the date of the agreement and description of the work to be performed.  The agreement must be signed by both parties.

   2.  The full name, address and contact information of the contractor, along with its Pennsylvania Registration number;

    3.  An approximate start date and completion date;

    4.  The cost of the work, and the amount of the deposit or payments plan; and

    5.   A notice that the homeowner has the right to rescind the contract.

A failure to provide this information in the contract could prevent the home improvement agreement from being enforced, but will not preclude a contractor from being paid the fair market value of the work already performed.

The Act also has provisions to account for fraud on the part of the home improvement contractor, including possible claims under the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Also, there are potential criminal penalties for any fraudulent acts of a home improvement contractor.

For home improvement contractors, it is imperative that your agreements with homeowners comply with all provisions of this law.  A failure to do so could not only make the contract unenforceable, but could also result in a claim for consumer fraud under the Act.

For homeowners, it is important that you know your rights under the Act in the event you have an issue with a home improvement contractor.

Whether you are a homeowner who believes that a home improvement contractor has acted improperly, or you are a home improvement contractor who needs advice to comply with the Act, the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP can help. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment to consult with an attorney, please contact Matthew H. Fry, Esquire at the Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP at 610-565-5700 or email him at [email protected].

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The Law Firm of DiOrio & Sereni, LLP, is located in Media, PA and serves clients in and around Media, Glen Riddle Lima, Brookhaven, Wallingford, Newtown Square, Lenni, Springfield, Swarthmore, Chester, Aston, Bryn Mawr, Morton, Woodlyn, Broomall, Gradyville, Folsom, Chester Heights, Crum Lynne, Glen Mills, Marcus Hook, Ridley Park, Drexel Hill, Marple, Bethel, Garnet Valley, Chadds Ford Concord, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Philadelphia County.

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