The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law is a state law in Massachusetts, USA that regulates the conduct of home improvement contractors and protects consumers from fraud and other abuses. The law applies to any contractor who performs work on residential property and requires them to register with the state, to provide written contracts for all work, to provide a notice of cancellation for all contracts, to provide a bond or insurance, and to disclose certain information to consumers.

The law also gives homeowners specific rights, such as the right to cancel a contract within 3 business days, the right to receive a written contract, the right to receive a notice of cancellation and the right to receive a bond or insurance.

The law also has sanctions for contractors who are not in compliance, including fines and penalties. The state attorney general’s office, as well as other state agencies, have the authority to enforce the law and can bring civil actions against contractors who violate the law.

It’s important to note that this law is specific to Massachusetts state and Home Improvement contractors in other states may have different regulations.

History

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law was first enacted in 1974 to protect consumers from fraud and other abuses by contractors performing work on residential property. The law was created in response to complaints from homeowners about unscrupulous contractors who performed shoddy work, failed to complete projects, or charged excessive fees.

The law has been amended several times over the years to increase consumer protections, such as adding a 3-day right to cancel contracts and requiring contractors to provide a bond or insurance.

In 2018, the law was updated to add additional consumer protection measures and to address issues arising with the use of online platforms by home improvement contractors. The update included provisions that require contractors to disclose their registration status, to provide their registration number on all advertising, and to provide consumers with a notice of cancellation rights at the time of contract execution.

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law is considered one of the most robust in the country and is a model for other states. It is important to note that despite the regulations, consumers should still research and check the credentials of a contractor before entering into a contract.

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law provisions

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law (HICL) has several provisions that are designed to protect consumers and regulate the conduct of home improvement contractors. The main provisions include:

  • Registration: All home improvement contractors must register with the state before performing work on residential property.
  • Written Contracts: All home improvement contractors must provide a written contract for all work, which must include the total cost of the project, a detailed description of the work to be performed, the start and completion dates, and the contractor’s registration number.
  • Notice of Cancellation: All home improvement contractors must provide a notice of cancellation with the written contract, which gives the homeowner the right to cancel the contract within 3 business days of signing it.
  • Bond or Insurance: All home improvement contractors must provide a bond or insurance to protect consumers in case the contractor fails to complete the work or causes damage to the property.
  • Disclosure of information: Home improvement contractors must disclose certain information to consumers, including their registration status, their registration number on all advertising and a notice of cancellation rights at the time of contract execution.
  • Consumer rights: Homeowners have the right to cancel a contract within 3 business days, the right to receive a written contract, the right to receive a notice of cancellation and the right to receive a bond or insurance.
  • Sanctions: Home improvement contractors who are not in compliance with the law may be subject to fines and penalties.
  • Enforcement: The state attorney general’s office, as well as other state agencies, have the authority to enforce the law and can bring civil actions against contractors who violate the law.

It is important for home improvement contractors to be aware of these provisions and comply with them in order to avoid penalties, fines and legal actions. It is also important for homeowners to be aware of their rights under this law and to verify the credentials of a contractor before entering into a contract.

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Responsibilities and Accountability

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law (HICL) places certain responsibilities and accountability on home improvement contractors to protect consumers from fraud and other abuses. These include:

  • Registration: Home improvement contractors must register with the state before performing work on residential property.
  • Written Contracts: Home improvement contractors must provide a written contract for all work, which must include the total cost of the project, a detailed description of the work to be performed, the start and completion dates, and the contractor’s registration number.
  • Notice of Cancellation: Home improvement contractors must provide a notice of cancellation with the written contract, which gives the homeowner the right to cancel the contract within 3 business days of signing it.
  • Bond or Insurance: Home improvement contractors must provide a bond or insurance to protect consumers in case the contractor fails to complete the work or causes damage to the property.
  • Disclosure of information: Home improvement contractors must disclose certain information to consumers, including their registration status, their registration number on all advertising and a notice of cancellation rights at the time of contract execution.
  • Compliance with consumer protection laws: Home improvement contractors are responsible for complying with all state and federal consumer protection laws.
  • Compliance with all applicable building codes and regulations: Home improvement contractors must comply with all building codes and regulations that apply to the work they perform.
  • Maintaining records: Home improvement contractors must maintain records of all contracts and receipts for materials and services.
  • Responding to consumer complaints: Home improvement contractors must respond to consumer complaints in a timely manner and make a good faith effort to resolve the issue.
  • Cooperating with state investigations: Home improvement contractors must cooperate with investigations by state agencies and provide any requested information.

The Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law (HICL) provides for both civil and administrative sanctions and remedies for violations of the law.

  • Civil Penalties: The HICL authorizes the state attorney general’s office to bring an action in court to enforce the law and to seek civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, or up to $25,000 per intentional violation.
  • Administrative Penalties: The HICL also authorizes state agencies to seek administrative penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, or up to $25,000 per intentional violation.
  • Injunctive Relief: The HICL authorizes state agencies to seek injunctive relief, which is a court order requiring a contractor to take specific actions to comply with the law.
  • Restitution: The HICL also authorizes state agencies to seek restitution for consumers who have been harmed by a contractor’s violation of the law.
  • Damages: Consumers may also be entitled to seek actual damages suffered as a result of a contractor’s violation of the HICL.
  • Suspension or revocation of registration: The HICL allows state agencies to suspend or revoke a contractor’s registration if they are found to be in violation of the law.
  • Consumer Complaints: Consumers can file complaints with the attorney general’s office if they believe a contractor has violated the HICL.

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