ASSEMBLY, No. 2258
STATE OF NEW JERSEY
INTRODUCED JULY 18, 1996
By Assemblymen MORAN, IMPREVEDUTO, Assemblywoman Quigley, Assemblymen Romano, Connors, Holzapfel and Wolfe
An Act requiring the registration of home improvement contractors and supplementing P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.).
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "Home Improvement Contractors' Registration Act."
2. As used in this act:
"Director" means the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
"Home improvement" means the remodeling, altering, painting, repairing, or modernizing of residential or non-commercial property and the making of additions thereto, and includes, but is not limited to, the construction, installation, replacement, improvement, or repair of driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping, fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements and basement waterproofing, fire protection devices, security protection devices, central heaters or purifiers, solar heating or water systems, aluminum siding, wall-to-wall carpeting or attached or inlaid floor coverings, and other changes, repairs, or improvements made in or on, attached to, or forming a part of the residential or noncommercial property. Home improvement shall also include insulation installation, and the conversion of existing commercial structures into residential or non-commercial property, but shall not include the construction of a new residence.
"Home improvement contract" means an oral or written agreement for the performance of a home improvement costing $100 or more between a home improvement contractor and an owner of residential or noncommercial property, or a home improvement contractor and a tenant or lessee of residential or noncommercial property, if the tenant or lessee is to be obligated for the payment of home improvements made in, to, or upon the property, and includes all agreements under which the home improvement contractor is to perform labor or render services for home improvements, or furnish materials in connection therewith.
"Home improvement contractor" means a person engaged in the business of making or selling home improvements and includes a corporation, partnership, association and any other form of business organization or entity, and its officers, representatives, agents and employees.
"Residential or non-commercial property" means a structure used, in whole or in substantial part, except for rental properties of more than four units, as a home or place of residence by any natural person, whether or not a single or multi-unit structure, and that part of the lot or site on which it is situated and which is devoted to the residential use of the structure, and includes all appurtenant structures.
3. a. No person shall sell, attempt to sell, or perform home improvements unless registered with the Division of Consumer Affairs in accordance with the provisions of this act.
b. Every home improvement contractor shall annually register with the director. Application for registration shall be on a form provided by the division and shall be accompanied by a reasonable fee, set by the director in an amount sufficient to defray the division's expenses incurred in administering and enforcing this act.
4. The provisions of this act shall not apply to:
a. Any person required to register pursuant to "The New Home Warranty and Builders' Registration Act," P.L.1977, c.467 (C.46:3B-1 et seq.);
b. Any person performing a home improvement upon a residential property he owns, or that is owned by a member of his family, a charity, or other non-profit organization;
c. Any person regulated by the State as an architect, professional engineer, landscape architect, land surveyor, electrical contractor, master plumber, or any other person in any other related profession requiring registration, certification, or licensure by the State, who is acting within the scope of practice of his profession; or
d. Any person who is employed by a homeowners' association.
5. In addition to any other procedure, condition or information required by this act:
a. Every applicant shall file a disclosure statement with the director stating whether the applicant has been convicted of any crime, which for the purposes of this act shall mean a violation of any of the following provisions of the "New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice," Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, or the equivalent under the laws of any other jurisdiction:
(1) Any crime of the first degree;
(2) Any crime which is a second or third degree crime and is a violation of chapter 20 or 21 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; or
(3) Any other crime which is a violation of N.J.S.2C:5-1, 2C:5-2,
2C:11-2 through 2C:11-4, 2C:12-1, 2C:12-3, 2C:13-1, 2C:14-2, 2C:15-1, subsection a. or b. of 2C:17-1, subsection a. or b. of 2C:17-2, 2C:18-2, 2C:20-4, 2C:20-5, 2C:20-7, 2C:20-9, 2C:21-2 through 2C:21-4, 2C:21-6, 2C:21-7, 2C:21-12, 2C:21-14, 2C:21-15, or 2C:21-19, chapter 27 or 28 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, N.J.S. 2C:30-2, 2C:30-3, 2C:35-5, 2C:35-10, 2C:37-1 through 2C:37-4.
b. Each disclosure statement may be reviewed and used by the director as grounds for denying, suspending or revoking registration, except that in cases in which the provisions of P.L.1968, c.282 (2A:168A-1 et seq.) apply, the director shall comply with the requirements of that act.
c. An applicant whose registration is denied, suspended, or revoked pursuant to this section shall, upon a written request transmitted to the director within 30 calendar days of that action, be afforded an opportunity for a hearing in a manner provided for contested cases pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.).
d. An applicant shall have the continuing duty to provide any assistance or information requested by the director, and to cooperate in any inquiry, investigation, or hearing conducted by the director.
e. If any of the information required to be included in the disclosure statement changes, or if additional information should be added after the filing of the statement, the applicant shall provide that information to the director, in writing, within 30 calendar days of the change or addition.
6. A home improvement contractor who enters into a home improvement contract for $20,000 or more shall maintain a bond issued by a surety authorized to transact business in this State or maintain an irrevocable letter of credit by a bank or maintain with the director securities, moneys or other security acceptable to the director to fulfill the requirements of this section. The principal sum of the bond, letter of credit, or securities, moneys or other security shall not be less than $10,000, which amount the director may adjust by regulation. The bond, letter of credit, or securities, moneys or other security shall be filed or deposited with the director and shall be executed to the State of New Jersey for the use of any person who, after entering into a home improvement contract, is damaged or suffers any loss for any violation of this act. Any person claiming against the bond, letter of credit, or securities, moneys or other security may maintain an action at law against the home improvement contractor and the surety, bank, or director, as the case may be. The aggregate liability of the surety, bank, or the director to all persons for all breaches of the conditions of the bond, letter of credit or the securities, moneys or other security held by the director shall not exceed the amount of the bond, letter of credit, or the securities, moneys or other security held by the director.
In the case of a bond, the home improvement contractor shall file a copy of the bond with the director and a certificate by the surety that the surety will notify the director at least 10 days in advance of the date of any cancellation or material change in the bond.
7. a. The director may refuse to issue or renew, and may revoke, any registration for failure to comply with, or violation of, the provisions of this act or for any other good cause shown within the meaning and purpose of this act. A refusal or revocation shall not be made except upon reasonable notice to, and opportunity to be heard by, the applicant or registrant.
b. The director, in lieu of revoking a registration, may suspend the registration for a reasonable period of time, or assess a penalty in lieu of suspension, or both, and may issue a new registration, notwithstanding the revocation of a prior registration, if the applicant is found to have become entitled to the new registration.
8. All registrants shall prominently display their registration numbers within their places of business, in all advertisements, business documents and correspondence, and on all vehicles used to conduct business.
9. a. The provisions of this act shall apply to any person engaging in any of the activities regulated by this act in this State, including persons whose residence or principal place of business is located outside of this State.
b. A person shall not bring or maintain an action in any court of this State for the collection of a fee, charge or commission for the performance of any of the activities regulated by this act without alleging and proving valid registration at the time the alleged cause of action arose.
10. It shall be a violation of this act to:
a. Make, or cause to be made, publish or cause to be published, any false, misleading, or deceptive advertisement or representation concerning the services or products that the registrant provides;
b. Engage in repeated acts of negligence, malpractice, or incompetence;
c. Engage in gross negligence, gross malpractice, or gross incompetence; or
d. Engage in any misconduct as may be determined by regulation by the director.
11. It is an unlawful practice and a violation of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.) to violate any provision of this act.
12. a. This act shall not deny to any municipality the power to register and regulate home improvement contractors.
b. No municipality shall issue a construction permit for any home improvement to any home improvement contractor who is not registered pursuant to the provisions of this act.
13. The director shall establish and undertake a public information campaign to educate and inform home improvement contractors and the consumers of this State of the provisions of this act.
14. Nothing in this act shall limit the application of P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.), or any regulations promulgated thereunder, in regard to the registration or regulation of home improvement contractors.
15. The director, pursuant to the provisions of the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), shall promulgate rules and regulations to effectuate the purposes of this act.
16. This act shall take effect 180 days following enactment.
This bill provides for the registration of home improvement contractors with the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety.
Under the bill's provisions, every home improvement contractor shall annually register with the director to do business in this State. The bill also makes violators of this bill subject to the provisions of the consumer fraud act, P.L.1960, c.39 (C.56:8-1 et seq.). It is a violation of the provisions of the bill to: make, or cause to be made, publish or cause to be published, any false, misleading, or deceptive advertisement or representation concerning the services or products that a home improvement contractor provides; engage in repeated acts of negligence, malpractice, or incompetence; engage in gross negligence, gross malpractice, or gross incompetence; or engage in any misconduct as may be determined by regulation by the director. In addition, the bill authorizes the Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs to refuse to issue or renew, or to suspend or revoke the registration of any person who violates the bill's provisions.
The bill further requires those registered as home improvement contractors who enter into home improvement contracts of $20,000 or more, to maintain a bond, letter of credit, or securities of not less than $10,000.
In addition, the bill requires the director to conduct a program of public education to educate and inform home improvement contractors and consumers of the provisions of this bill.
"Home Improvement Contractors' Registration Act."