Undercover New Jersey investigators, after a period of careful surveillance, swooped in and busted the eight suspects.
An episode from The Sopranos?
No, these were not fictional Mafia figures, but home renovators operating without official state-issued home repair contractor licenses. In this case, it was post-Hurricane Sandy repairs that they were engaged in. Four of the eight contractors were charged with criminal offences. It’s another example of how seriously New Jersey authorities are tackling home improvement scams, unprofessional conduct and building permit avoidance.
Since New Jersey passed its Contractor Registration Act in 2004, it is strictly illegal in this jurisdiction to engage in any home repair costing more than $500. Home repair licenses cost $90 annually. Not only must the contractor possess such a license, but it is also illegal to do work without a written contract, or to do work without showing proof of $500,000 liability insurance. All subtrades require these licenses, too. Employees of contractors do not.
Much as envisaged by the fledgling Ontario College of Trades, homeowners can check online to see which plumbers, electricians, mechanics, hairstylists and other tradespeople are registered with the government. New Jersey goes further than the Ontario College of Trades, including moving companies and funeral homes in their monitored trades, which are not on the radar up here.
In Ontario, currently, home renovation contractors and home repair contractors, unless they are plumbers, electricians, sheet metal workers and refrigeration and air-conditioning mechanics, do not need to register with the Ontario College of Trades.
The fines for unregistered contractors in New Jersey start at $10,000 for a first offense.
For the full story on the eight busted contractors, from NJ.com and the New Jersey Star-Ledger, click here.