Sunday, January 9, 2011

Legal News: Real Estate: Illinois Contractors Now Subject to Consumer Fraud Act

Back in 2000, the Illinois General Assembly passed the Home Repair and Remodeling Act (815 ILCS 513).  This law was designed to offer homeowners specific protections from contractors who performed shoddy work or were less than honest.  For example, the law requires that contractors performing home repair services to use a written contract form that specifically outlines the contractor's obligations and responsibilities, and to provide a consumer's rights brochure to the homeowner.  The remedies for failing to follow the statue, however, were unclear.  Over the years, courts were interpreting this law to bar contractors from suing the homeowner for money owed if, for example, the contractor had simply failed to provide the brochure.  An amendment to the law was enacted in July of 2010 which clarifies the remedies.  Now, a technical violation of the law will not result in one party being deprived of a remedy.  The new relief provision contains a less severe but more appropriate remedy — the right to sue under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act.

This seems only fair.  A contractor who otherwise does his job right shouldn't be cut off from recovery simply for not crossing the t's and dotting the i's.  Yet, if the homeowner has been wronged, failure to comply with the Act will be clear evidence of the contractor's lack of good faith. In any event, Contractors must be upfront with homeowners, and the homeowner's rights are still paramount.    

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