31 Buffalo Companies Part of Settlement with State Attorney General

August 15, 2013 Updated Aug 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM EDT

By WKBW News

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31 Buffalo Companies Part of Settlement with State Attorney General

August 15, 2013 Updated Aug 15, 2013 at 1:08 PM EDT

ALBANY, NY (WKBW-TV) - Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced a settlement with more than 200 home improvement contractors accused of violating New York’s Home Improvement Contracts Law.

According to the report, 31 companies from Buffalo were among the 200 that settled. The AG’s office had been investigating alleged abuses that included failure to provide written contracts or honor terms of consumers’ work agreements.

As part of the settlement, the contractors have agreed to do home improvement work using only underwritten contracts that comply with the law and to put all advance deposits into a customer account at a local banking institution. Each also agreed to pay penalties ranging up to $1,500.

“Far too often, homeowners hire contractors without having signed documents stating what work will be done and how long it will take,” Schneiderman said. “Time and again, consumers end up with much larger bills than expected, or with projects that were never started or completed.”

Article 36-A of New York’s General Business Law requires every home improvement contractor, before beginning work, to provide the consumer with a written contract, signed by both parties, which sets out specific information and disclosures.

Among the required information is:

• Provide proposed starting and completion dates

• Describe the work to be done

• Include materials to be provided

• Give notice that the consumer has an unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without penalty

“They need to know their rights, and home improvement contractors must obey the law,” Schneiderman said, addressing the importance of consumers staying informed and protected from predatory practices.

His office also released a list outlining steps that consumers should follow prior to signing a contract to have home improvement work done. Those points include:

• Be specific about what work you want done

• Educate yourself about the required permits – don’t rely solely on the contractor

• Get references and check them

• Get proof of insurance from the contractor

• Check licenses (if required)

Consumers who have concerns regarding a contractor they have dealt with can call the Attorney General’s consumer helpline at 1-800-771-7755.