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Getting tough on unregistered renovators in New Jersey

Canadian business owners generally face more regulation and paperwork than their counterparts south of the border. But not when it comes to home renovations as regulated by the state of New Jersey. Today, eight home repair contractors were busted for doing post-Hurricane Sandy repair work without state licenses.


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July 22, 2013 by Steve Payne

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.


Steve Payne

Steve Payne

Steve Payne is the editor of Canadian Contractor magazine
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1 Comment » for Getting tough on unregistered renovators in New Jersey
  1. It is in fact illegal in most municipalities throughout Ontario to operate without a valid annual building renovator operating license. Treats of fines abound but, unfortunately, these laws are never enforced. In fact, in Oakville, Ontario, a municipality that not oly requires building contractors to be licences but which also publishes the current list of licensed contractors, nevertheless has hired a non-licensed general contractor to undertake the town’s current multi million dollar renovation at its city hall! So, not oly, does this municipality not enforce the licensing laws it has enacted, the city itself breaks its own licensing laws!

    If municipalities do not enforce this important requirement, it should not be surprising that the vast majority of general contractors operating out there today are unqualified, uninsured and likely operating without WSIB or an HST number. No wonder this industry has such a poor reputation among consumers!