New Jersey State Senator Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) has introduced a bill holding all contractors doing home improvement work to the “Contractors’ Registration Act,” including those conducting water remediation services.
“It has come to my attention that a loophole in current law has allowed people to conduct water remediation services for Superstorm Sandy victims without having to comply with the state Contractors’ Registration Act,” Beck said. “As a result, property owners have been ripped off by certain contractors who have failed to finish projects or charged exorbitant prices and fees well beyond amounts that consumers expected.”
The Monmouth County Sandy Fraud Task Force has investigated and sought to penalize companies who conducted substandard or incomplete debris removal and mold remediation; firms that charged tens of thousands of dollars above reasonable value to clean; and businesses that billed residents as much as 500 percent more than a mutually agreed upon match of a competitor’s price and 500 percent more than what insurance would cover, according to Acting Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.
“This loophole needs to be closed immediately, so county and state authorities can affirmatively assist our residents who are rebuilding in the wake of Sandy, and so our residents are protected during any recovery from future storms,” Gramiccioni explained. “Current law allows for a greater possibility of scams because authorities cannot penalize water remediation companies for poor business practices and violations of the Registration Act.”
Senator Beck’s legislation amends the “Contractors’ Registration Act” to include within the definition of “home improvement” the removal of saturated or water-damaged materials and other similar water-damage remediation. This Act, in part, makes contractors register with the Division of Consumer Affairs; secure liability insurance; and mandates that contracts and terms for water remediation services be certified in writing.
“New Jersey property owners suffering damages and losses due to disasters such as Superstorm Sandy are most vulnerable to be scammed and defrauded by contractors who may not even be bona fide and are just looking to take victims’ money on the pretense of helping them recover,” Beck said. “We’ve just enacted bipartisan legislation to require state-issued identification badges for home improvement contractors. Now we need to come together immediately to pass this legislation to fully protect our residents during times of chaos and grief.”