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New York Home Improvement Compliance Guide for Contractors, Salespersons and Consumers

In the wake of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Sandy, many property owners are continuing to seek necessary home improvements. In other cases, it’s just time for an addition, or that swimming pool or sunroom.
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In the course of this process, it’s important for homeowners, as well as contractors and salespersons, to understand all applicable New York State laws regarding general home improvement contracts and general contracting.

By Downloading your free copy of the “Home Improvement Compliance Guide — What You, the Contractor and Consumer Need to Know,” you can ensure all parties are on the right side of the law. This can save you a great deal of time and money in the long run, and may potentially help you avoid costly litigation.

Specific questions pertaining to your project and/or business should be directed to an experienced home improvement attorney.

The guide contains not only applicable New York State laws, as well as county and municipality requirements, but also plain English explanation of these laws and requirements, best practice tips for all five boroughs, advertising rules, model templates for various contracts and cancellations, and detailed instructions of obligations and prohibited acts for all parties. There are even a few important notes on how one can avoid running afoul of Federal Trade Commission regulations.

Every home improvement salesperson or contractor in New York should take the time to research the information contained in this guide. Homeowners seeking improvements to their property should invest at least an hour or so, reviewing this information for a more thorough knowledge of their rights and obligations.

New York State has some of the most comprehensive rules when it comes to home improvement contracting. The intention is to protect all parties involved. However, we recognize that these strict guidelines leave plenty of room for error. That’s why, just as a carpenter measures twice and cuts once, we advise contractors and salespersons to have a full grasp of these issues before embarking on a project or new venture.

With regard to New York State law, you’ll want to pay particular attention to New York Lien Law, Section 71-a, New York General Business Law Article 36-A, “Home Improvement Contracts,” Sections 770-776 and New York Uniform Commercial Code, Section 2-718.

While specific requirements may vary from county to county, all New York home improvement contracts have to be written, signed by all parties and contain specific information, such as name, address, telephone number, license numbers, estimated work dates, work description, materials used, specified payments, and an outline of cancellation or revocation rights. These are just the very basics.

State law also prohibits contractors from “steering” activities with respect to financing. Convoluted language in these contracts is inadvisable, as the law holds that the contract must be provided in plain, legible English and that the homeowner retains the right to sue based on false or fraudulent written representations or statements.

This information represents a starting point for those embarking on a New York home improvement project. We hope you will take some time to review the guidelines herein and then come to us with any additional questions or concerns regarding either your company or the project at hand.

The Law Offices of Ira S. Newman provides consumer and contractor representation in New York City, Long Island, Great Neck and throughout the area. Call 516-487-7375 or send us an e-mail.

Additional Resources:
The Home Improvement Compliance Guide – What You, The Contractor and Consumer Need to Know, 2013, Written by Ira S. Newman & Samuel L. Drukman, New York Business and Consumer Attorneys