Contractors who work in Pennsylvania may now begin to register with the State Attorney General's Office, in order to comply with a new law that takes effect July 1.
The requirement was triggered by the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act, which the Pennsylvania Legislature approved in 2008. The law requires that all contractors who perform $5,000 or more in home improvements in a year register with the Attorney General's Office.
"We have worked to ensure that the registration process is as quick and easy as possible," said Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett. "If you complete your registration online, you will receive your registration number instantaneously."
The act aims to protect consumers from unscrupulous contractors, provide new protection for consumers who hire home-improvement contractors, and authorize criminal penalties for home-improvement fraud, Corbett said.
"Complaints involving home improvement or repair projects are one of the top subjects of calls to the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection," Corbett said. "This legislation will give us new tools to identify and prosecute problem contractors, while also helping consumers avoid frustrating and potentially expensive problems in the future."
In 2008, the Attorney General's Office received more than 2,100 complaints from consumers struggling with problems involving home-improvement projects. Legal actions filed by the office last year against "no show" contractors and others doing substandard work seek more than $2 million in consumer refunds, fines and civil penalties.
Home-improvement contractors will now be required to register with the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection; maintain minimum insurance coverage; and use contracts that contain important information about home projects, including the start date and completion date, a description of work being performed, and consumers' rights under the law. The registration is valid for two years.
Contractors may register online at www.attorneygeneral.gov or by submitting a completed application form to Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General, Bureau of Consumer Protection, ATTN: Home Improvement Contractor Registration, 15th Floor, Strawberry Square, Harrisburg, PA, 17120. Forms are available online or by calling 1-800-441-2555.
As of July 1, 2009, consumers in Pennsylvania will be able to verify a contractor's registration with the AG’s office. The office will encourage consumers to use registered contractors when deciding to make home improvements.