New Hampshire Legal Aid

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Home Repair Fraud

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Many homeowners become victims of over-charging, shoddy workmanship, or deposits paid but work not completed or never started, because they are taken in by smooth-talking sales pitches delivered by phone or by salesmen who call at the home.

Protect yourself from such disreputable practices:

 

1.  get written estimates from several companies that are well established or recommended by people you know.

2.  get references of five people the contractor has previously worked for (and who are not related to him/her) and call each of them.

3. Ask the contractor how long they have been in business and whether they have ever done business under a different name. 

4.  Call the Consumer Protection and Antitrust Bureau and ask whether any complaints have been filed against them. 

5. Call the Better Business Bureau and ask about previous complaints against a company. 

6. Anyone doing business in the State of New Hampshire must be registered with the Secretary of State’s office.  Can check the Secretary of State's website or call 1-603-271-3242. 

When hiring a company, you should be permitted to review and sign a written contract.  The contract should have:

1.  a description of the work to be done,

2. the quality of materials,

3. starting and completion dates, and

4. a clear statement of the total cost and terms of payment.

Read any contract carefully to see if you are signing up for any kind of financing. You are usually better off borrowing from a bank or reputable lender rather than the contractor.

If you do sign up for financing, you may be asked to give a security interest in your home. A security interest, like a mortgage, allows the lender to foreclose on your property usually without a court order, if you fail to make agreed upon payments.

If you do give such a security interest, you have 3 days after signing the papers to change your mind and cancel the contract. As described above under "Home Solicitation Sales," if you are sold home repair services at a place other than the salesperson's regular place of business (such as at your house, at a temporary location at a shopping mall or hotel) you also have the right to cancel the contract within 3 days if you change your mind, by notifying the seller in writing of your decision.

Date: 
2006
Author: 
New Hampshire Bar Association

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