The Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act is Effective July 1

July 1, 2009

 July is probably my favorite month of the year for many reasons – lots of warm weather ahead, my birthday, my daughter’s birthday and three whole weeks of the Tour de France. However, many home improvement contractors haven’t been looking forward to the onset of July this year because the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (the "Act") goes into effect today. I had previously written about whether a contracting business needs to register for the Act and how to ensure home improvement contracts are enforceable under the Act.

 In addition, this Act will have implications for how firms are rendering services. One of our clients took a proactive approach and sent emails to their entire customer base. This email explained that there was a provision in the Act stating that any contract subject to the Act (generally over $500) must include a provision that allows the homeowner to cancel the contract without penalty within three business days of signing. Essentially this provision could delay contractors from commencing home improvements for three days. Which could be problematic for customers looking for even a small project to be completed immediately.

However, this three day period is waived if the work requested falls into the emergency provisions of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. Those provisions allow the three day period to be waived by the customer if the home improvement services needed are " . . . a bona fide immediate personal emergency. . . ." In addition, the customer must provide a personal and signed statement in their own handwriting that describes the situation and acknowledges not only the need for an immediate remedy but also an express waiver of their right to cancel.

If a bona fide emergency does not exist, it is probably not a good idea to begin work until the three day period has run because the contractor runs the risk of the contract being cancelled during that time, which will likely prevent the contractor from being reimbursed for the work performed. It is also a good idea to contact the existing customer base and notify them of this new policy.