Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Home Repairs & the Law - New York State Home Improvement Contract Law

If you had damage in the storm & plan to hire a contractor in New York, we will be providing you with some tips & laws to get you on your way.

Lets start with General Business Law 771, which contains the requirements for home improvement contracts as follows:


1. Every home improvement contract subject to the provisions of this article, and all amendments thereto, shall be evidenced by a writing and shall be signed by all the parties to the contract. The writing shall contain the following:
(a) The name, address, telephone number and license number, if applicable, of the contractor.
(b) The approximate dates, or estimated dates, when the work will begin and be substantially completed, including a statement of any contingencies that would materially change the approximate or estimated completion date. In addition to the estimated or approximate dates, the contract shall also specify whether or not the contractor and the owner have determined a definite completion date to be of the essence.
(c) A description of the work to be performed, the materials to be provided to the owner, including make, model number or any other identifying information, and the agreed upon consideration for the work and materials.
(d) A notice to the owner purchasing the home improvement that the contractor or subcontractor who performs on the contract or the materialman who provides home improvement goods or services and is not paid may have a claim against the owner which may be enforced against the property in accordance with the applicable lien laws. Such home improvement contract shall also contain the following notice to the owner in clear and conspicuous bold face type:
“Any contractor, subcontractor, or materialman who provides home improvement goods or services pursuant to your home improvement contract and who is not paid may have a valid legal claim against your property known as a mechanic's lien. Any mechanic's lien filed against your property may be discharged. Payment of the agreed-upon price under the home improvement contract prior to filing of a mechanic's lien may invalidate such lien. The owner may contact an attorney to determine his rights to discharge a mechanic's lien”.
(e) A notice to the owner purchasing the home improvement that, except as otherwise provided in paragraph (g) of this subdivision, the home improvement contractor is legally required to deposit all payments received prior to completion in accordance withsubdivision four of section seventy-one-a of the lien law and that, in lieu of such deposit, the home improvement contractor may post a bond, contract of indemnity or irrevocable letter of credit with the owner guaranteeing the return or proper application of such payments to the purposes of the contract.
(f) If the contract provides for one or more progress payments to be paid to the home improvement contractor by the owner before substantial completion of the work, a schedule of such progress payments showing the amount of each payment, as a sum in dollars and cents, and specifically identifying the state of completion of the work or services to be performed, including any materials to be supplied before each such progress payment is due. The amount of any such progress payments shall bear a reasonable relationship to the amount of work to be performed, materials to be purchased, or expenses for which the contractor would be obligated at the time of payment.
(g) If the contract provides that the home improvement contractor will be paid on a specified hourly or time basis for work that has been performed or charges for materials that have been supplied prior to the time that payment is due, such payments for such work or materials shall not be deemed to be progress payments for the purposes of paragraph (f) of this subdivision, and shall not be required to be deposited in accordance with the provisions of paragraph (e) of this subdivision.
(h) A notice to the owner that, in addition to any right otherwise to revoke an offer, the owner may cancel the home improvement contract until midnight of the third business day after the day on which the owner has signed an agreement or offer to purchase relating to such contract. Cancellation occurs when written notice of cancellation is given to the home improvement contractor. Notice of cancellation, if given by mail, shall be deemed given when deposited in a mailbox properly addressed and postage prepaid. Notice of cancellation shall be sufficient if it indicates the intention of the owner not to be bound. Notwithstanding the foregoing, this paragraph shall not apply to a transaction in which the owner has initiated the contact and the home improvement is needed to meet a bona fide emergency of the owner, and the owner furnishes the home improvement contractor with a separate dated and signed personal statement in the owner's handwriting describing the situation requiring immediate remedy and expressly acknowledging and waiving the right to cancel the home improvement contract within three business days. For the purposes of this paragraph the term “owner” shall mean an owner or any representative of an owner.
2. The writing shall be legible, in plain English, and shall be in such form to describe clearly any other document which is to be incorporated into the contract. Before any work is done, the owner shall be furnished a copy of the written agreement, signed by the contractor. The writing may also contain other matters agreed to by the parties to the contract.