An unregistered city home improvement contractor is among 89 companies that were issued violation notices in the second quarter of this year by the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs.
The State is seeking $630,556 in consumer restitution and civil penalties from the 89 contractors throughout New Jersey. “With New Jersey well into peak home improvement season, we are actively protecting consumers by responding to complaints and identifying contractors who violate our registration and advertising laws,” Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman said.
40 contractors were allegedly unregistered. New Jersey law requires a contractor to be registered by showing proof of $500,000 in liability insurance and other requirement. A good many of the unregistered companies were subject of many consumer complaints. The state has ordered the companies to pay restitution to consumers ranging from $200 to $35,905.
Paterson-based Daniel Construction & Contracting Inc. was operating without the necessary registration, according to the State.
“Hiring a fraudulent or unregistered contractor could easily end up costing a consumer thousands of dollars, and a lot of wasted time and energy,” Division of Consumer Affairs Acting Director Steve Lee said. “The Division of Consumer Affairs is here to help consumers by confirming whether a given contractor is registered, and whether he or she has been the subject of consumer complaints or past enforcement action.”
Some of the unregistered contractors have cooperated with the State and agreed to pay penalties and apply for registration.
The rest of the contractors, 49 are registered, but were subject of consumer complaints or failed to include their registration number on advertisements or documents. 23 registered contractors were ordered to pay consumers between $2,250 and $25,900 in restitution to consumers.
26 other registered contractors were cited because they failed to include their registration numbers or other required information on documents and advertisements.
The State has ordered 56 of the 80 contractors to pay $369,236 to consumers in restitution for shoddy or unfinished work. All 89 contractors have been ordered to pay $261,320 in civil penalties.
Cited contractors may contest the violations or correct the violation by ceasing any practices that break the law. They may also dispute the amount of restitution assessed by the State.
89 companies will pay in total $630,556. In the first half of 2015, the Division of Consumer Affairs issued violation notices to 120 contractors seeking $1 million in restitution and penalties, according to the State.
Complaints about home improvement contractors top the list of all complaints received by the State every year. 1,253 formal consumer complaints were lodged in 2014. 628 formal complaints have been lodged to date this year.
“For their part, consumers can protect themselves by learning as much as possible about any contractor – including whether the business is registered to conduct home improvement work in New Jersey – before signing a contract,” Hoffman said.
Home improvement projects costing more than $500 requires a contractor provide a written contract with detailed information about the project including contracted price, start and end date, scope of work, contractor’s business name, address, and registration number.