Tom Corbett (R)

HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) -- Pennsylvania has made steps towards protecting home owners from the increasing prevalence of home improvement fraud.

Last week, the state Legislature approved the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act.

The act comes after the attorney general's office received almost 2,100 complaints in the last year stemming from problems involving home improvement projects. The goal of the act is to protect home owners and create a home improvement fraud criminal offense enforceable by the attorney general.

"Complaints involving home improvement or repair projects are one of the top subjects of calls to the Attorney General's Bureau of Consumer Protection," Attorney General Tom Corbett said. "This legislation will give us new tools to identify and prosecute problem contractors, while also helping consumers avoid frustrating and potentially expensive problems in the future."

If signed by the governor, the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act will go into effect on July 1, 2009. Sen. Robert Tomlinson of Bucks County sponsored the legislation.

Under terms of the act, home improvement contractors in Pennsylvania would be required to register with the attorney general's Bureau of Consumer Protection and include their registration number on advertisements, estimates and work proposals.

Contractors would also be required to maintain minimum insurance coverage and provide comprehensive contracts listing the start and completion date of projects, a description of the work being performed and a list of the consumers' rights under law.

Disclosure of a suspended license or a license revoked by state or municipality or being barred from government-funded home improvement programs would also be a requirement of all contractors.

To make complying with the new law easier, the office of the attorney general will create an online registration system and other methods for contractors to comply with the new law.

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