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Press Release


For Immediate Release:
May 24, 2016

Office of The Attorney General
Robert Lougy, Acting Attorney General

Division of Consumer Affairs
Steve C. Lee, Acting Director

Division of Law
Michelle L. Miller, Acting Director
  For Further Information and Media Inquiries:
Lisa Coryell (973) 504-6327

New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs Cites 51 Home Improvement Contractors for $844,477 in Consumer Restitution and Civil Penalties in First Quarter of 2016

View Violation chart

NEWARK – The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs today announced that during the first quarter of 2016, it issued Notices of Violation to 51 contractors, seeking $844,477 in consumer restitution and civil penalties.

“As the warm weather ushers New Jersey into its traditional home improvement season, we’re making sure contractors are abiding by the laws that protect consumers undertaking projects to upgrade and beautify their homes,” said Acting Attorney General Robert Lougy. “Contractors that try to skirt our laws and regulations will face the consequences and pay the price.”

Of the 51 contractors that received Notices of Violations, 26 were cited for failing to register with the Division as legally required. To become registered, a contractor must disclose the physical location of the business and provide proof that the contractor has a minimum of $500,000 in liability insurance, among other requirements.

The Notices of Violations contained allegations ranging from shoddy workmanship and failing to complete work that consumers had paid for in advance, to failing to refund deposits, as well as other violations the Home Improvement Contractors’ Registration Act and the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Notices of Violation assessed a total of $180,750 in civil penalties against the contractors. Contractors were ordered to pay a total of $663,727 in consumer restitution in amounts ranging from $250 to $134,093.

“No matter how big or small the project, consumers have a right to expect the home improvement work they pay for will be completed on time and in accordance with the terms of their contract,” said Steve Lee, Acting Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “Hiring a contractor should not be a crapshoot for consumers who are shelling out their hard-earned money for repairs or home improvement.”

Each of the contractors receiving a Notice of Violation has the opportunity to contest the assertion that he or she has violated the law, can correct the violation by discontinuing any practices that are in violation of the law, pay a civil penalty and/or consumer restitution where required, and submit an application for registration, if not registered.

Certain contractors on the list today have cooperated with the Division of Consumer Affairs to resolve the complaints by paying the civil penalties and restitution contained in the Notices of Violation or by entering into Consent Orders with the Division to settle the matters. Contractors that failed to respond to the Notices of Violation have been found in Default and have been assessed the full civil penalties and restitution contained in the Notices of Violation. Consumers can check the latest status of each investigation involving the contractors on the list by contacting the Division at 800-242-6200.

Home Improvement grievances continue to top the list of consumer complaints received by the Division each year. The Division reviews each complaint to determine if the contractor has violated the Home Improvement regulations, the Contractors’ Registration Act and/or the Consumer Fraud Act.

The Division of Consumer Affairs encourages everyone to do their homework and know their rights before hiring a home improvement contractor.

Tips for Consumers, When Hiring a Contractor:

  • Learn about any contractor before deciding to hire them. It is ideal to work with a contractor who is recommended by people you know. It also is advisable to ask the contractor for references and speak with those references about the contractor's work.
  • Contact the Division of Consumer Affairs to learn if the contractor is duly registered to perform home improvement work in New Jersey, and learn whether the contractor has been the subject of consumer complaints and/or legal action by the Division, or to learn more about contractors who have been cited by the Division. You can call the Division at 800-242-5846 or use the Division's website, NJConsumerAffairs.gov.
  • Before hiring the contractor, demand a copy of the contractor's liability insurance policy and contact the insurer to learn whether the policy is valid.
  • Obtain a written contract. Contracts for home improvement projects costing $500 or more must be in writing. They must include the legal name, business address, and registration number of the contractor as well as a start date, completion date, description of the work to be done, and the total price. The contract also must contain the Division of Consumer Affairs’ toll-free number.
  • Remember that you may cancel a home improvement contract for any reason at any time before midnight of the third day after you receive a copy of the contract. To cancel a contract you must notify the contractor in writing. Any money you’ve paid must be returned to you within 30 days of canceling the contract.
  • Make sure all warranties and guarantees are in writing, and that the contract states the name brands or quality/grades of the materials to be used. Ensure that all applicable construction permits are obtained by the contractor, from the appropriate municipality.
  • Keep in mind that it is customary not to pay for the entire project in advance.

Additional tips can be found in the Division's Consumer Brief on "Hiring Home Improvement Contractors," available in English and in Español.

Information for Home Improvement Contractors:

To advertise and perform home improvement work legally in New Jersey, contractors must register with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. View registration materials and information.

Investigators Jessica Lugo, Maureen Browne, Brittany Kieran, and Jared O’Cone of the Division of Consumer Affairs’ Office of Consumer Protection, conducted these investigations.

Deputy Attorneys General from the Consumer Fraud Prosecution Section within the Division of Law represented the State in these actions.

Consumers who believe they have been cheated or scammed by a business, or suspect any other form of consumer abuse, can file an online complaint with the State Division of Consumer Affairs by visiting its website or by calling 1-800-242-5846 (toll free within New Jersey) or 973-504- 6200.

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Last Modified: 5/25/2016 1:11 PM