New contracts law in Pa.

Home Improvement Act forces very specific changes
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Saturday, August 1, 2009

PHILADELPHIA--As of July 1, security system installers are subject to the new Home Improvement Act, passed earlier this year in an effort to protect Pennsylvania consumers from unscrupulous contractors of various sorts, such as roofers, remodelers, painters, landscapers, electricians, and, yes, security systems installers.

Ralph Manento, past president of the Pennsylvania BFAA and owner of Royal Security Systems, said the new law affects security dealers greatly and forces companies to change their contracts, but many installers are unaware of the law and have yet to come into compliance.

Not only does the law put a new licensing scheme in place, it specifies what must be contained in a contract, and even spells out the required type size. Installers must register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of the Attorney General. 

Part of that registration requires, for example, “proof of liability insurance covering personal injury in an amount not less than $50,000 and insurance covering property damage caused by the work of a home improvement contractor in an amount not less than $50,000,” along with other information dating back at least 10 years.The annual registration fee is $50. Contract provisions include a notice of rescission, so that any job agreed to may be canceled within three working days. Perhaps most importantly, there are a number of clauses that can be voided by the consumer, including any clause that provides for automatic recurring renewal, or any clause that relieves the security installer from liability for acts committed by the contractor.

Manento isn’t sure what the enforcement will be like right out of the gate, but he urges anyone doing alarm work in Pennsylvania to become acquainted with the new law, and even some who aren’t doing business in Pennsylvania. As this law follows a similar law passed in Connecticut in 2006, “this is the kind of law that other states pick up on,” he said.