HARRISBURG — Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane announced on Monday the results of an undercover operation in the Pittsburgh area designed to ensure that home improvement contractors are in compliance with the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).
The operation was the third phase in a statewide undercover investigation organized by the Office of Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
The operation resulted in eight settlements with businesses that were filed in the form of assurances of voluntary compliance (AVCs). Monetary relief resulting from the AVCs totaled $5,600. Of that total, $3,100 will go toward restitution.
At this time, five of the eight contractors whose HICPA registrations were out of compliance have renewed their registrations with the Attorney General’s office. The remaining three are not currently operating as home improvement contractors. Should they provide home improvement services in the future, they must register or face enhanced civil penalties of up to $5,000.
Daniel Belin, who did business under the company name D&D Roofing and Remodeling, has agreed to pay $2,500 in restitution to a consumer who previously filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s office. Belin was not registered at the time he entered into the contract. Additionally, consumers complained that Belin’s workmanship was poor. Belin is not currently operating as a home improvement contractor, but under the terms of the AVC, in the event he acts as a contractor in the future he must first register. Failure to do so could result in the payment of civil penalties of at least $1,000.
Andrew Schillinger, who did business under the company name Perfection Remodeling and Home Services, allegedly used a false home improvement contractor (HIC) number in advertisements. He has agreed to pay $250 in civil penalties and is required to register for his own HIC number in order to continue doing business in Pennsylvania.
Steven Schneider, who did business under the company name Schneider Construction, has agreed to pay $600 in restitution. Schneider resolved previous complaints on his own. Schneider was accused of entering home improvement contracts after his HICPA registration lapsed. Schneider has since renewed his HICPA registration and is currently in compliance with the law.
HICPA requires contractors doing business throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to register with the Office of the Attorney General and include certain consumer provisions in their contracts. They include clear descriptions of the contract terms, start and complete dates, a limited right to rescission, identification of their HICPA registration numbers and contact information for all known subcontractors at the time of the agreement.
During undercover operations this year, agents posed as homeowners looking for estimates for general home improvements. Agents located contractors through various advertisements and matched those to a database of registered contractors. The undercover agents later called the contractors and set up appointments.
Once the contractors arrived, agents showed them problem areas in a house. Contractors were allowed the time to ask questions and take measurements. Agents then requested an estimate.
After the contractors provided a price for the work, agents announced they worked for the Office of Attorney General and presented the contractors with a copy of the HICPA law, the consumer protection law, a registration form and a subpoena for documents related to the contractor’s business.
The Bureau of Consumer Protection earlier this year organized undercover HICPA operations in Bucks and Erie counties.
To report contractors in your area
Consumers or businesses may call the Office of Attorney General’s Home Improvement Registration Hotline, at 1-888-520-6680, to report unregistered contractors operating in their communities. Complaints about unregistered contractors may also be emailed to the office at HIC@attorneygeneral.gov