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I hired a home improvement contractor to perform renovations on my home. What should I know?

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The Contractors’ Registration Act (the “CRA”) requires that no one offer to perform, engage, or attempt to engage in making or selling home improvements unless they register annually with the New Jersey Department of Consumer affairs. Home improvement contractors must also maintain and file proof of a certificate of commercial general liability insurance for a minimum of $500,000.00 per occurrence.

The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (the “CFA”) protects consumers, including consumers of home improvement services, from unconscionable commercial practices, including, but not limited to, fraud, misrepresentation, and deception. Pursuant to the CFA, any home improvements to be performed by a contractor in excess of $500.00, must be subject to a written contract that is signed by all parties. If a contractor fails to provide a written contract for such work, it is an automatic violation of the Consumer Fraud Act. Similarly, all change orders arising from such a contract, must also be made in writing. Home improvement contracts must set forth the terms and conditions of the contract, including, but not limited to, a detailed description of the work to be done, materials to be used, the cost of the project, the start and end dates, and statements of any guarantees or warranties.

It is illegal for a contractor to misrepresent the materials being used, to make misrepresentations about a competitor, to misrepresent pricing and financing terms, and to fail to begin or complete work in a timely manner. For these reasons, or a variety of others, legal issues may arise. If a contractor is found to have violated the Consumer Fraud Act, they may be held liable for triple damages, attorney’s fees, and costs.

If you believe you have a claim against a home improvement contractor in New Jersey, please contact an attorney at Cohn Lifland today.