HARRISBURG — Attorney General Josh Shapiro today announced that his Bureau of Consumer Protection has filed 35 legal actions in 17 counties across Pennsylvania involving home improvement contractors. The legal actions were part of a statewide home improvement initiative, from October 2018-April 2019, which focused on contractors’ compliance with the Commonwealth’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).
Home improvement contractors are required to register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection biannually under HICPA. Attorney General Shapiro urges contractors to become familiar with HICPA’s requirements for compliant contracts and acceptable deposits, among other things. Over 70,000 contractors are currently registered with the Bureau under HICPA.
The legal actions address issues of non-registration, or failure to maintain current registration; the use of contracts that failed to comply with the requirements under HICPA; and failing to begin work, complete work, or completing work in a substandard, shoddy manner. Of the 35 legal actions: 18 lawsuits were filed, 9 Assurances of Voluntary Compliance were filed, and three enforcement actions were taken for failure to comply with court order. Five actions were previously filed and publicized.
“My Bureau of Consumer Protection nailed it on this initiative—enforcing HICPA to ensure Pennsylvanians aren’t taken advantage of by unscrupulous home improvement contractors who refuse to comply with the requirements and who fail to keep up their end of the bargain,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “When consumers hire a contractor to work on their home, they have a right under Pennsylvania law to work with a legitimate business.”
For a complete list of the legal actions taken in this initiative, please click here.
In one instance, a consumer in Cambria County was scammed by a home improvement contractor company, Gillin Construction, to restore their roof. They paid the contractor over $10,000 and only half of the work was completed. In September 2018, the consumer entered into a $6,700 contract with the company and paid a $4,000 down payment for Gillin Construction to begin their work, but the contractor left the consumer’s home unfinished after ripping the shingles off of their roof. The consumer only saw the contractor again when he came back to ask for more money, not to work on the roof. Additionally, leaking from their unfinished roof caused $3,500 worth of damages inside the house.
“Gillin Construction said they had performed some repairs for my neighbors, so I trusted them. It was an incredibly frustrating time for my family when we had to pay another contractor $4700 to complete the work that Gillin left unfinished. It only took them three hours to cover the part of my roof that was leaking. I am grateful to Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for taking action to prevent other consumers from being scammed by a home improvement contractor.
In announcing the legal actions, Attorney General Shapiro also provided a series of tips for consumers to follow in choosing a contractor to improve or work on their homes:
Know what permits are required: Be aware that local municipalities may require permits for home improvement projects and for certain specialized work. Talk to your municipality and find out if permits are required, for example; electrical, plumbing, etc.
Before entering into a contract with a home improvement contractor, ask for local references, and call them to see if they were satisfied with the contractor’s work.
Solicit multiple bids for the work you need. Make sure each contractor is submitting bids according to the same home improvement project plans.
“Pennsylvanians suffer when dishonest home improvement contractors go unchecked,” Attorney General Shapiro said. “Consumers should check to be sure the contractor is registered with my Bureau of Consumer Protection by visiting the online database at www.attorneygeneral.gov.”
Pennsylvanians who believe they have been the victim of a home improvement contractor or disreputable business practices should contact the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection at 1-800-441-2555 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.attorneygeneral.gov to file a complaint.
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