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New Jersey Home Improvement Practices Rules

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NEW JERSEY HOME IMPROVEMENT PRACTICES RULES

TITLE 13. LAW AND PUBLIC SAFETY
CHAPTER 45A. ADMINISTRATIVE RULES OF THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS
SUBCHAPTER 16. HOME IMPROVEMENT PRACTICES
§ 13:45A-16.1 Purpose and scope
(a) The purpose of the rules in this subchapter is to implement the provisions of the Consumer
Fraud Act, N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., by providing procedures for the regulation and content of home
improvement contracts and establishing standards to facilitate enforcement of the requirements of
the Act.
(b) The rules in this subchapter shall apply to all sellers as defined in N.J.A.C. 13:45A-16.1A and to
all home improvement contractors as defined in N.J.A.C. 13:45A-17.2 whether or not they are exempt
from the provisions of N.J.A.C. 13:45A-17.
§ 13:45A-16.1A Definitions
The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings
unless the context indicates otherwise.
"Home improvement" means the remodeling, altering, painting, repairing, renovating, restoring,
moving, demolishing, or modernizing of residential or noncommercial property or the making
of additions thereto, and includes, but is not limited to, the construction, installation, replacement,
improvement, or repair of driveways, sidewalks, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping,
fences, porches, windows, doors, cabinets, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements and basement
waterproofing, fire protection devices, security protection devices, central heating and air
conditioning equipment, water softeners, heaters, and purifiers, solar heating or water systems,
insulation installation, siding, wall-to-wall carpeting or attached or inlaid floor coverings, and other
changes, repairs, or improvements made in or on, attached to or forming a part of the residential
or noncommercial property, but does not include the construction of a new residence. The term extends
to the conversion of existing commercial structures into residential or noncommercial property
and includes any of the above activities performed under emergency conditions.
"Home improvement contract" means an oral or written agreement between a seller and an
owner of residential or noncommercial property, or a seller and a tenant or lessee of residential or
noncommercial property, if the tenant or lessee is to be obligated for the payment of home improvements
made in, to, or upon such property, and includes all agreements under which the seller
is to perform labor or render services for home improvements, or furnish materials in connection
therewith.
"Residential or non-commercial property" means a structure used, in whole or in substantial
part, as a home or place of residence by any natural person, whether or not a single or multi-unit
structure, and that part of the lot or site on which it is situated and which is devoted to the residential
use of the structure, and includes all appurtenant structures.
"Sales representative" means a person employed by or contracting with a seller for the purpose
of selling home improvements.
"Seller" means a person engaged in the business of making or selling home improvements and
includes corporations, partnerships, associations and any other form of business organization or
entity, and their officers, representatives, agents and employees.
§ 13:45A-16.2 Unlawful practices
(a) Without limiting any other practices which may be unlawful under the Consumer Fraud Act,
N.J.S.A. 56:8-1 et seq., utilization by a seller of the following acts and practices involving the sale,
attempted sale, advertisement or performance of home improvements shall be unlawful hereunder.
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1. Model home representations: Misrepresent or falsely state to a prospective buyer that the
buyer's residential or noncommercial property is to serve as a "model" or "advertising job", or use
any other prospective buyer lure to mislead the buyer into believing that a price reduction or other
compensation will be received by reason of such representations;
2. Product and material representations: Misrepresent directly or by implication that products or
materials to be used in the home improvement:
i. Need no periodic repainting, finishing, maintenance or other service;
ii. Are of a specific or well-known brand name, or are produced by a specific manufacturer
or exclusively distributed by the seller;
iii. Are of a specific size, weight, grade or quality, or possess any other distinguishing characteristics
or features;
iv. Perform certain functions or substitute for, or are equal in performance to, other products
or materials;
v. Meet or exceed municipal, state, federal, or other applicable standards or requirements;
vi. Are approved or recommended by any governmental agency, person, firm or organization,
or that they are the users of such products or materials;
vii. Are of sufficient size, capacity, character or nature to do the job expected or represented;
viii. Are or will be custom-built or specially designed for the needs of the buyer; or
ix. May be serviced or repaired within the buyer's immediate trade area, or be maintained
with replacement and repair parts which are readily available.
3. Bait selling:
i. Offer or represent specific products or materials as being for sale, where the purpose or
effect of the offer or representation is not to sell as represented but to bait or entice the
buyer into the purchase of other or higher priced substitute products or materials;
ii. Disparage, degrade or otherwise discourage the purchase of products or materials offered
or represented by the seller as being for sale to induce the buyer to purchase
other or higher priced substitute products or materials;
iii. Refuse to show, demonstrate or sell products or materials as advertised, offered, or represented
as being for sale;
iv. Substitute products or materials for those specified in the home improvement contract,
or otherwise represented or sold for use in the making of home improvements by sample,
illustration or model, without the knowledge or consent of the buyer;
v. Fail to have available a quantity of the advertised product sufficient to meet reasonably
anticipated demands; or
vi. Misrepresent that certain products or materials are unavailable or that there will be a
long delay in their manufacture, delivery, service or installation in order to induce a
buyer to purchase other or higher priced substitute products or materials from the seller.
4. Identity of seller:
i. Deceptively gain entry into the prospective buyer's home or onto the buyer's property
under the guise of any governmental or public utility inspection, or otherwise misrepresent
that the seller has any official right, duty or authority to conduct an inspection;
ii. Misrepresent that the seller is an employee, office or representative of a manufacturer,
importer or any other person, firm or organization, or a member of any trade associa-
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tion, or that such person, firm or organization will assume some obligation in fulfilling
the terms of the contract;
iii. Misrepresent the status, authority or position of the sales representative in the organization
he represents;
iv. Misrepresent that the sales representative is an employee or representative of or works
exclusively for a particular seller; or
v. Misrepresent that the seller is part of any governmental or public agency in any printed
or oral communication including but not limited to leaflets, tracts or other printed material,
or that any licensing denotes approval by the governmental agency.
5. Gift offers:
i. Offer or advertise any gift, free item or bonus without fully disclosing the terms or conditions
of the offer, including expiration date of the offer and when the gift, free item or
bonus will be given; or
ii. Fail to comply with the terms of such offer.
6. Price and financing:
i. Misrepresent to a prospective buyer that an introductory, confidential, close-out, going
out of business, factory, wholesale, or any other special price or discount is being given,
or that any other concession is made because of a market survey or test, use of materials
left over from another job, or any other reason;
ii. Misrepresent that any person, firm or organization, whether or not connected with the
seller, is especially interested in seeing that the prospective buyer gets a bargain, special
price, discount or any other benefit or concession;
iii. Misrepresent or mislead the prospective buyer into believing that insurance or some
other form of protection will be furnished to relieve the buyer from obligations under the
contract if the buyer becomes ill, dies or is unable to make payments;
iv. Misrepresent or mislead the buyer into believing that no obligation will be incurred because
of the signing of any document, or that the buyer will be relieved of some or all
obligations under the contract by the signing of any documents;
v. Request the buyer to sign a certificate of completion, or make final payment on the contract
before the home improvement is completed in accordance with the terms of the
contract;
vi. Misrepresent or fail to disclose that the offered or contract price does not include delivery
or installation, or that other requirements must be fulfilled by the buyer as a condition
to the performance of labor, services, or the furnishing of products or materials at
the offered or contract price;
vii. Mislead the prospective buyer into believing that the down payment or any other sum
constitutes the full amount the buyer will be obligated to pay;
viii. Misrepresent or fail to disclose that the offered or contract price does not include all financing
charges, interest service charges, credit investigation costs, building or installation
permit fees, or other obligations, charges, cost or fees to be paid by the buyer;
ix. Advise or induce the buyer to inflate the value of the buyer's property or assets, or to
misrepresent or falsify the buyer's true financial position in order to obtain credit; or
x. Increase or falsify the contract price, or induce the buyer by any means to misrepresent
or falsify the contract price or value of the home improvement for financing purposes or
to obtain additional credit.
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7. Performance:
i. Deliver materials, begin work, or use any similar tactic to unduly pressure the buyer into
a home improvement contract, or make any claim or assertion that a binding contract
has been agreed upon where no final agreement or understanding exists;
ii. Fail to begin or complete work on the date or within the time period specified in the
home improvement contract, or as otherwise represented, unless the delay is for reason
of labor stoppage; unavailability of supplies or materials, unavoidable casualties, or any
other cause beyond the seller's control. Any changes in the dates or time periods stated
in a written contract shall be agreed to in writing; or
iii. Fail to give timely written notice to the buyer of reasons beyond the seller's control for
any delay in performance, and when the work will begin or be completed.
8. Competitors:
i. Misrepresent that the work of a competitor was performed by the seller;
ii. Misrepresent that the seller's products, materials or workmanship are equal to or better
than those of a competitor; or
iii. Use or imitate the trademarks, trade names, labels or other distinctive marks of a competitor.
9. Sales representations:
i. Misrepresent or mislead the buyer into believing that a purchase will aid or help some
public, charitable, religious, welfare or veterans' organization, or misrepresent the extent
of such aid or assistance;
ii. Knowingly fail to make any material statement of fact, qualification or explanation if the
omission of such statement, qualification or explanation causes an advertisement, announcement,
statement or representation to be false, deceptive or misleading; or
iii. Misrepresent that the customer's present equipment, material, product, home or a part
thereof is dangerous or defective, or in need of repair or replacement.
10. Building permits:
i. No seller contracting for the making of home improvements shall commence work until
he is sure that all applicable state or local building and construction permits have been
issued as required under state laws or local ordinances; or
ii. Where midpoint or final inspections are required under state laws or local ordinances,
copies of inspection certificates shall be furnished to the buyer by the seller when construction
is completed and before final payment is due or the signing of a completion slip
is requested of the buyer.
11. Guarantees or warranties:
i. The seller shall furnish the buyer a written copy of all guarantees or warranties made
with respect to labor services, products or materials furnished in connection with home
improvements. Such guarantees or warranties shall be specific, clear and definite and
shall include any exclusions or limitations as to their scope or duration. Copies of all
guarantees or warranties shall be furnished to the buyer at the time the seller presents
his bid as well as at the time of execution of the contract, except that separate guarantees
or warranties of the manufacturer of products or materials may be furnished at the
time such products or materials are installed.
12. Home improvement contract requirements--writing requirement: All home improvement contracts
for a purchase price in excess of $500.00, and all changes in the terms and conditions
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thereof shall be in writing. Home improvement contracts which are required by this subsection to
be in writing, and all changes in the terms and conditions thereof, shall be signed by all parties
thereto, and shall clearly and accurately set forth in legible form and in understandable language
all terms and conditions of the contract, including, but not limited to, the following:
i. The legal name and business address of the seller, including the legal name and business
address of the sales representative or agent who solicited or negotiated the contract
for the seller;
ii. A description of the work to be done and the principal products and materials to be used
or installed in performance of the contract. The description shall include, where applicable,
the name, make, size, capacity, model, and model year of principal products or fixtures
to be installed, and the type, grade, quality, size or quantity of principal building or
construction materials to be used. Where specific representations are made that certain
types of products or materials will be used, or the buyer has specified that certain types
of products are to be used, a description of such products or materials shall be clearly
set forth in the contract;
iii. The total price or other consideration to be paid by the buyer, including all finance
charges. If the contract is one for time and materials, the hourly rate for labor and all
other terms and conditions of the contract affecting price shall be clearly stated;
iv. iv. The dates or time period on or within which the work is to begin and be completed by
the seller;
v. A description of any mortgage or security interest to be taken in connection with the financing
or sale of the home improvement; and
vi. A statement of any guarantee or warranty with respect to any products, materials, labor
or services made by the seller.
13. Disclosures and obligations concerning preservation of buyers' claims and defenses:
i. If a person other than the seller is to act as the general contractor or assume responsibility
for performance of the contract, the name and address of such person shall be disclosed
in the oral or written contract, except as otherwise agreed, and the contract shall
not be sold or assigned without the written consent of the buyer;
ii. ii. No home improvement contract shall require or entail the execution of any note,
unless such note shall have conspicuously printed thereon the disclosures required by either
State law (N.J.S.A. 17:16C-64.2 (consumer note)) or Federal law (16 C.F.R. section
433.2) concerning the preservation of buyers' claims and defenses.
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