In NJ, the HIC Must Heed the Consumer Fraud Act
Homeowners, Contractors & Consumer Fraud
When we refer to how in New Jersey Home Improvement Contractors must heed the Consumer Fraud Act (“CFA”), we couldn’t be more serious. According to the CFA, there are three ways in which a contractor can commit consumer fraud: affirmative misrepresentations, knowing omissions and certain regulatory violations. All of these sound more than a bit confusing, but that is the law for you. It is a good thing you found your way to a site that can make sense of these terms. Let us dig in.
When you say it out loud, “affirmative misrepresentation,” it almost sounds more like an oxymoron than a euphemism. The plain truth is that it refers to an intentional lie or even unintentional lie – that is no “intent” is required. If you want it to sound prettier, it is a factually untrue statement. Either way, the contractor said he or she would do one thing, but did another. The contractor may have promised to install a certain brand name, only to go with the generic version or perhaps the contract required tilt windows, and the contractor installed windows that were not tilt windows. These are examples of “affirmative misrepresentations.”
A “knowing omission” sounds like a term invented by a liar, one who was wondering aloud, “Is it a lie if I simply leave out the truth? You could call it, I don’t know, a knowing omission!” If a contractor knows a fact instrumental to the successful completion of the project and fails to disclose it……yup, this is a knowing omission. Often a contractor might not be able to finish work in the agreed upon time but will commence anyway, knowing this for a fact but omitting it from any conversation with the client.
So far, violations of the CFA seem easy to anticipate and avoid, perhaps. That is why it was probably best to get the first two types of violations out of the way. That is right, because now we are dealing with the Contractor’s Registration Act (NJSA 56:8-136 et seq.) and the Home Improvement Practices regulations (NJAC 13:45A-16.1 et seq.). Am I going to explain what those are? Heavens no, but please refer to my prior blogs. What I will tell you is that consumer fraud will most likely take the form of a violation of some regulation appearing in either of those regulatory bodies. What was that term? Oh yes, a “regulatory violation.” Now that is straightforward.
There are so many regulations to violate that the likelihood of hiring a home improvement professional who adheres to them all is rather slim. Many are simply operating with contracts that are in violation of some or a number of the regulations. This simply means that technical violations tend to be easy to prove. You will still need an attorney because there is much more to a home improvement contractor case than the technical violations. For example, even who you need to sue is something you might end up needing help with – has the contractor dissolved his or her construction entity and did the contractor start a new one? You may have a successor liability claim. Is it the contractor’s employees who committed the violation or was it the contractor him or herself? Under present New Jersey case law, you can name the contractor personally as a defendant and can name his or her employees (in some circumstances). If you have any questions like these and more, please contact the Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC for a free consultation.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Please be advised that this blog is for informational purposes only, is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship.
The Law Office of H. Benjamin Sharlin LLC
is owned and operated by H. Benjamin Sharlin and serves all of Mercer County, New Jersey and the surrounding areas. Mr. Sharlin is a bilingual Spanish-speaking attorney who vigorously represents the interests of all his clients.
Call (609) 585-0606 or click the button below to schedule an appointment