State Probes Capital Region Home Improvement Contractors
Attorney General Spitzer today announced a series of actions to help protect Capital Region consumers from unscrupulous home improvement contractors.
In the first matter, the Attorney General sued Jarrod S. Haas, who operates home repair companies under at least six different names in the Capital Region. The suit alleges, among other things, fraud and deceptive business practices.
According to the lawsuit, numerous consumers complained about poor work by Haas, including botched roofing jobs that resulted in leaks and property damage. When consumers contacted the home repair companies seeking warranty repairs, Haas failed to honor his promises, broke scheduled appointments and never repaired the defective work.
In addition, Haas failed to pay at least seven Small Claims Court judgments obtained by dissatisfied customers, valued in total at over $7,000.
In filing the lawsuit, Spitzers office is seeking a court order barring Haas from the home improvement industry unless he posts a $100,000 performance bond. In addition, Spitzer is seeking a full accounting of Haas customers since June 2000, a court order directing Haas to pay full restitution to injured consumers - including over $9,000 to those who have already filed complaints against him - and over $49,000 in civil penalties.
Haas operated his home improvement firms under several names, including: J. Haas & Sons Construction, Inc.; J. Haas & Sons Construction; J. Haas Enterprises; Skyline Roofing; J. Haas & Sons, Inc.; and J. Haas and Sons Roofing, Inc.
In another matter, the Attorney Generals office settled its four-month investigation of Capital Region home improvement company, FX Contracting. Under the settlement, the firms operators, Timothy Michael Butler and his wife, Tina Marie Butler, agreed to pay nearly $9,400 to three consumers who filed complaints with Spitzers office. In addition, the Butlers agreed to pay $3,600 in civil penalties for violations of the state law that prohibits deceptive business
practices and the statutes that require consumer down payments to be deposited in escrow accounts and contracts to contain consumer protection clauses.
Other home improvement matters recently resolved by the Attorney Generals office include:
- An order and judgment banning Thomas E. Gordon and Toms Asphalt Maintenance of Watervliet from the home improvement industry unless Gordon posts a $50,000 performance bond, and directing him to pay at least $16,685 in restitution and $14,850 in civil penalties and costs;
- An order and judgment banning Kenneth Rickson and Rickson Remodeling of Delanson from the home improvement industry unless Rickson posts a $50,000 performance bond and directing him to pay more than $51,400 in restitution and Small Claims judgments and $25,100 in civil penalties and costs;
- An order and judgment against Esperance-based Daniel Leguire, his business partners, Colleen Leguire and Brian Leguire, and their various home repair companies which bans them from the home improvement industry unless they post a $60,000 performance bond; the order also directs them to pay restitution, civil penalties and costs as follows: Daniel Leguire to pay nearly $55,500; Colleen Leguire to pay over $28,000; and Brian Leguire to pay nearly $34,000; and
- A court order against Leonard Neal of Schenectady and his home repair business, Lens Remodeling, that bars Neal from the industry unless he posts a $40,000 performance bond, and directs him to pay over $36,000 in restitution and civil penalties.
Since 1999, the Attorney Generals office has commenced enforcement actions against more than 110 owners or operators of approximately 170 home improvement companies.
Individuals with complaints against home improvement contractors are encouraged to contact the Attorney Generals office by calling the consumer help line at (800) 771-7755 or by going to his website at www.ag.ny.gov.
The cases are being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Matthew Barbaro and Robert Vawter of the Attorney Generals Consumer Frauds and Protection Bureau.
Home Improvement Tips:
The Attorney General offered the following tips to consumers on home improvement contractors:
- Never agree to have work done on the spot, especially when potential contractors are marketing door-to-door;
- Determine exactly what you want done, then look for a qualified contractor;
- Shop Around; get at least three estimates from reputable contractors that include specific information about the materials and services to be provided;
- Ask for references: check with the Better Business Bureau; banks; suppliers; and neighbors. Always contact any references provided to you;
- Insist on a written contract that includes the price and description of the work needed;
- Do not pay unreasonable advance sums; negotiate a payment schedule tied to the completion of specific stages of the job;
- Never pay the full price up front;
- Remember that you have three days to cancel after signing a home improvement contract, but all cancellations must be in writing.
Contact the Attorney Generals office at (800) 771-7755 if you have any unresolved disputes with a home improvement contractor and are seeking assistance