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BILL AS INTRODUCED 2007-2008

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H.783

Introduced by Representatives Keenan of St. Albans City, Baker of West Rutland, Bissonnette of Winooski, Bostic of St. Johnsbury, Botzow of Pownal, Consejo of Sheldon, Godin of Milton, Howrigan of Fairfield, Hunt of Essex, Kitzmiller of Montpelier, Larson of Burlington, McCormack of Rutland City, Morley of Barton, Shand of Weathersfield, Trombley of Grand Isle, Turner of Milton and Zenie of Colchester

Referred to Committee on

Date:

Subject:  Crimes; frauds; home improvement fraud

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to transfer the responsibility for maintaining the home improvement fraud registry from the department of labor to the office of attorney general.  The bill requires that a person convicted of home improvement fraud who engages in home improvement activities for a company or individual give notice of the conviction to his or her employer and to the office of attorney general.  It requires that a person convicted of home improvement fraud who is self-employed and engages in home improvement activities file a surety bond or irrevocable letter of credit with the office of attorney general.  Finally, the bill proposes to require that a person who is charged with home improvement fraud, but convicted of a different offense, comply with its provisions.

AN ACT RELATING TO HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1.  13 V.S.A. § 2029 is amended to read:

§ 2029.  HOME IMPROVEMENT FRAUD

(a)  As used in this section, “home improvement” includes the fixing, replacing, remodeling, removing, renovation, alteration, conversion, improvement, demolition, or rehabilitation of or addition to any building or land, or any portion thereof, which is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling unit.  Home improvement shall include the construction, replacement, installation, paving, or improvement of driveways, roofs, and sidewalks, and the limbing, pruning, and removal of trees or shrubbery and other improvements to structures or upon land that is adjacent to a dwelling house.

(b)  A person commits the offense of home improvement fraud when he or she knowingly enters into a contract or agreement, written or oral, for $500.00 or more, with an owner for home improvement, or into several contracts or agreements for $2,500.00 or more in the aggregate, with more than one owner for home improvement, and he or she knowingly:

(1)  promises performance that he or she does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed, in whole or in part;

(2)  misrepresents a material fact relating to the terms of the contract or agreement or to the condition of any portion of the property involved;

(3)  uses or employs any unfair or deceptive act or practice in order to induce, encourage, or solicit such person to enter into any contract or agreement or to modify the terms of the original contract or agreement; or

(4)  when there is a declared state of emergency, charges for goods or services related to the emergency a price that exceeds two times the average price for the goods or services and the increase is not attributable to the additional costs incurred in connection with providing those goods or services.

(c)  It shall be a permissive inference that the person acted knowingly under subdivision (b)(1) of this section if the person fails to perform the contract or agreement and, when the owner requests performance of the contract or agreement or a refund of payments made, the person fails to:

(1)  return the payments or deliver the materials or make and comply with a reasonable written repayment plan for the return of the payments; or

(2)  make and comply with a reasonable written plan for completion of the contract or agreement.

(d)  A person convicted of home improvement fraud shall register with the department of labor office of attorney general.  The court shall notify the department of labor office of attorney general of a conviction under this section.  A person who is sentenced pursuant to subdivisions (e)(2), (3), or (4) of this section shall not engage in home improvement activities for compensation unless he or she has filed a surety bond or an irrevocable letter of credit with the department of labor in an amount of not less than $50,000.00. The department shall release the letter of credit at such time when:

(1) any claims against the person relating to home improvement fraud have been paid;

(2)  there are no pending actions or claims against the person for home improvement fraud; and

(3)  the person has not been engaged in home improvement activities for at least six years and has signed an affidavit attesting to such.

(e)(1)  A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both, if the loss to a single consumer is less than $1,000.00.

(2)  A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subdivision (1) of this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both.

(3)  A person who violates subsection (b) of this section shall be imprisoned not more than three years or fined not more than $5,000.00, or both, if:

(A)  the loss to a single consumer is $1,000.00 or more; or

(B)  the loss to more than one consumer is $2,500.00 or more in the aggregate.

(4)  A person who is convicted of a second or subsequent violation of subdivision (3) of this subsection shall be imprisoned not more than five years or fined not more than $10,000.00, or both.

(5)  A person who violates subsection (d) or (f) of this section shall be imprisoned for not more than two years or fined not more than $1,000.00, or both.

(f)  A person who is sentenced pursuant to subdivision (e)(2), (3), or (4) of this section may engage in home improvement activities for compensation only if:

(1)  the work is for a company or individual engaged in home improvement activities, and the person first notifies the company or individual of the conviction and notifies the office of attorney general of the person’s current address and telephone number; the name, address, and telephone number of the company or individual for whom the person is going to work; and the date on which the person will start working for the company or individual; or

(2)  the person notifies the office of attorney general of the intent to engage in home improvement activities, and that the person has filed a surety bond or an irrevocable letter of credit with the office in an amount of not less than $50,000.00, and pays on a regular basis all fees associated with maintaining such bond or letter of credit.

(g)  The office of attorney general shall release the letter of credit at such time when:

(1)  any claims against the person relating to home improvement fraud have been paid;

(2)  there are no pending actions or claims against the person for home improvement fraud; and

(3)  the person has not been engaged in home improvement activities for at least six years and has signed an affidavit so attesting.

(h)  A person charged with home improvement fraud who is convicted of a different offense may be required to comply with subsections (d) and (f) of this section.



Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont


www.leg.state.vt.us