Bryan Cohen Aug. 15, 2013, 5:28pm

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced settlements Thursday with 211 home improvement contractors to resolve allegations that they violated the state's Home Improvement Contracts Law.

The contractors each paid penalties and costs up to $1,500 each for their alleged unlawful conduct. Some of the alleged violations included failure to provide written contracts or honor the basic terms of the consumers' work agreements.

Article 36-A of the General Business Law requires that home improvement contractors must give consumers a written contract prior to starting work. The contract must be signed by both parties and set out certain disclosures and information. The contract must include proposed starting and completion dates, a description of the work to be completed, a list of materials to be provided and a notice that the consumer has an unconditional three-day right to cancel the contract without a penalty.

"Far too often, homeowners hire contractors without having signed documents stating what work will be done and how long it will take," Schneiderman said. "And time and again, consumers end up with much larger bills than expected, or with projects that were never started or completed. They need to know their rights, and home improvement contractors must obey the law. My office will continue fighting to protect consumers' hard-earned dollars and ensure that bad contractors are held accountable."

The settlements were reached with contractors in multiple geographic regions of the state, including 48 contractors in Binghamton, 31 in Buffalo, 27 in Poughkeepsie, 28 in Rochester, 16 in Syracuse, 18 in Utica, 35 in Watertown and eight in Putnam.

The contractors agreed to do home improvement work using only underwritten contracts that comply with the law. The contractors also agreed to abide by another law requiring any advance deposits taken by the contractor to be put into an account at a banking institution separate from the contractor's other funds.

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