Attorney General Cuomo Warns North Country Contractors To Abide By Home Improvement Laws

PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (February 20, 2009) - Attorney General Cuomo’s Office today announced that, after receiving multiple complaints in his Plattsburgh Regional Office, his office has sent approximately 500 letters to area contractors in the North Country warning them to abide by New York State Laws regarding home improvement contracts.

The Attorney General’s Plattsburgh Regional Office has learned that many North Country contractors are unaware of the Home Improvement Contracts Law or have otherwise not been complying with it. General Business Law Article 36-A (Sections 770 and following) requires that every home improvement contract for more than $500 be in writing and contain certain specific terms, disclosures, and provisions. A technical violation of the law (i.e., omission of a required disclosure) can result in a fine of $100 per contract. More significant violations in a contract can result in a fine of between $250 and $2,500.

“As my office has repeatedly stated, we expect home improvement contractors be honest and perform the work for which they are paid,” said Attorney General Cuomo. “The relevant laws regarding contracts help to avoid misunderstandings that can be costly for both consumers and contractors. There are significant penalties for contractors whose contracts fail to comply with the statute. I urge all consumers and contractors to be informed to avoid any pitfalls.”

The letters - sent to nearly 500 contractors that advertise in Clinton, Essex or Franklin counties - specifically list sample contract provisions, which include:

  • Anticipated start and completion dates
  • Disclosure of the possibility of a lien being placed on the property
  • Disclosure that the contractor is required to deposit all payments received from the consumer prior to substantial completion of the work in a separate bank account no later than five business days after receipt and the bank in which the consumer’s deposit or down payment will be deposited
  • Disclosure of the consumer’s unconditional right to cancel the contract within three days

The law applies to contracts involving roofing, room additions, remodeling, plumbing, heating, insulation, flooring, and other work typically thought of as “home improvement.” It also applies to custom-built homes on land owned by the consumer, the set-up of modular or mobile homes, the installation of alarm systems or fencing, landscaping work, texture sealing, excavating, and other services.

In 2008, Attorney General Cuomo unveiled a new website,, to help New York state residents avoid home improvement scams and dishonest contractors. The site allows consumers to easily check for local contractors that have been subject to legal action or have substantiated consumer complaints filed against them. Consumers can search contractors by name, business name, region, or county. The site also lists helpful hints, resources and links to other agencies and consumer groups, and information on how to file a complaint against a contractor with the Attorney General’s Office

Plattsburgh area consumers who believe they me be a victim of fraud by a contractor or any other business are urged to contact the Attorney General’s Plattsburgh Regional Office at 518-562-3282.