SB 100-FN – AS AMENDED BY THE SENATE
SENATE BILL 100-FN
This bill establishes certain minimum requirements for home improvement contracts over a specified amount and establishes that a violation of the requirements is a misdemeanor and a violation of the consumer protection act.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Nine
AN ACT relative to home improvement contracts.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
1 New Chapter; Home Improvement Contracts. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 359-I the following new chapter:
HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACTS
359-J:1 Definitions. In this chapter:
I. “Person” shall include natural persons, corporations, trusts, partnerships, incorporated or unincorporated associations, and any other legal entity.
II. “Contract” means an agreement for the performance of home improvement construction, including all labor and materials provided pursuant to the contract.
III. “Contractor” means any person who owns or operates a business who, personally or through others, undertakes, offers to undertake, purport’s to have the capacity to undertake, or submits an estimate to perform home improvement construction.
IV. “Homeowner” means any person entering into a contract with a contractor for home improvement construction, including any authorized assignee, agent, tenant, or subsequent purchaser of a residence from any homeowner.
V. “Home improvement construction” means the construction, reconstruction, alteration, renovation, repair, modernization, conversion, improvement, removal, or demolition of any residential structure or accessory building of a residential structure where the total value of the home improvement construction is equal to or in excess of $8,000.
359-J:2 Home Improvement Contracts.
I. Any contract between a contractor and homeowner to perform home improvement construction shall require a written agreement signed and dated by the parties, and a copy shall be given to the homeowner. The written agreement shall include the following minimum information.
(a) The homeowner’s name, telephone number, mailing and street address, and the physical address of the structure that is the subject of the contract.
(b) The contractor’s name, telephone number, mailing address, and street address.
(c) The date the home improvement contract was submitted to the consumer, which may be accepted and executed by the homeowner within 30 days unless a different time period is stated.
(d) A reasonably detailed description of the home improvement construction to be performed, including reference to any plans relating to the construction.
(e) Estimated dates of commencement and substantial completion of performance.
(f) The price to perform the home improvement construction, including:
(1) The total price for performance of the contract if based on a fixed price; or if the total price is based on time and materials, the terms by which payment for labor and/or materials will be charged;
(2) A schedule for making progress payments; and
(3) The amount of any initial advance down payment.
(g) A statement of notice and opportunity to repair remedies as described in RSA 359-G:7.
(h) A statement that any change to the scope of work stated in the contract shall result in a written change order to be executed by the parties, including a reasonably detailed description of the change in the scope of work or the contract price.
(i) If a warranty applies, a statement specifying the extent of the warranty and the person or entity providing the warranty coverage.
(j) Signature lines for the contractor and the homeowner with a legible printed or typed version of that person's name placed directly after or below the signature and the date of signature.
359-J:3 Penalty for Violation. A violation of this chapter shall constitute a misdemeanor.
359-J:4 Enforcement; Additional Penalties. The provisions of this chapter shall be administered and enforced by the consumer protection and antitrust bureau of the department of justice established by RSA 21-M:9. In addition to other appropriate penalties, any violation of the provisions of this chapter shall constitute a violation of RSA 358-A. Any right, remedy or power set forth in RSA 358-A may be used to enforce the provisions of this chapter.
2 New Subparagraph; Enforcement. Amend RSA 21-M:9, II by inserting after subparagraph (u) the following new subparagraph:
(v) Administering and enforcing the provisions of RSA 359-J, relative to home improvement contracts.
3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect January 1, 2010.
SB 100 FISCAL NOTE
AN ACT relative to home improvement contracts.
The Judicial Branch, the Judicial Council, the Department of Justice, and the New Hampshire Association of Counties state this bill, as amended by the Senate (Amendment #2009-0724s), may increase state and county expenditures by an indeterminable amount in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. There will be no fiscal impact on local expenditures or state, county, and local revenue.
The Judicial Branch states this bill would add RSA chapter 359-J to regulate home improvement contracts by establishing certain minimum requirements that these contracts must meet. Under the proposal, a violation of these requirements would result in an unspecified misdemeanor charge. The Branch has no information to estimate how many charges would be brought as a result of the changes contained in the bill to determine the fiscal impact on expenditures, however the Branch states the cost of a misdemeanor case in the district court would be $35.75 in FY 2010 and each year thereafter. Additionally, if a single case were to be appealed to the New Hampshire Supreme Court, the fiscal impact would be in excess of $10,000.
The Judicial Council states this bill may result in an indeterminable increase in general fund expenditures. The Council states if an individual is found to be indigent, the flat fee of $275 per misdemeanor is charged by a public defender or contract attorney. If an assigned counsel attorney is used, the fee is $60 per hour with a cap of $1,400 for a misdemeanor charge. The Council also states additional costs could be incurred if an appeal is filed. The public defender, contract attorney and assigned counsel rates for Supreme Court appeals is $2,000 per case, with many assigned counsel attorneys seeking permission to exceed the fee cap. Requests to exceed the fee cap are seldom granted. Finally, expenditures would increase if services other than counsel are requested and approved by the court during the defense of a case or during an appeal.
The Department of Justice states the criminal offense created by the bill will increase the Department’s expenditures by an indeterminable amount. If an appeal is filed, the Department would have a further increase in expenditures. The Department is unable to estimate how many cases would be prosecuted by the Department or appealed to the Supreme Court.
The New Hampshire Association of Counties states to the extent an individual is prosecuted, convicted, and sentenced to incarceration, the counties may have increased expenditures. The Association is unable to determine the number of individuals who might be detained or incarcerated as a result of this bill. The average cost to incarcerate an individual in a county facility is $30,165 a year.