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Thursday, January 23, 2020

Massachusetts Home Improvement Contractor Law

Contractors hired to work on a residential home in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts must provide written contracts with required information provided if the amount of the work will exceed one thousand dollars.  In fact, so-called "handshake deals", verbal agreements, or simple invoice contracts more likely than not will violate Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 142A.

In 1992, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Home Improvement Contractor Law which became Massachusetts General Laws chapter 142A.  This law lays the foundation for agreements between contractors and homeowners when the value of the work being performed will exceed one thousand dollars.

A firm understanding of this law (as well as the requirements of a contract) will help protect both the homeowner and the contractor.

Massachusetts General Law Chapter 142A §2(a) requires the following provisions to be included in a written contract for any home improvement contract for work valued in excess of $1,000:

(1) the complete agreement between the owner and the contractor and a clear description of any other documents which are or shall be incorporated into said agreement;

(2) the full names, social security numbers, addresses, exclusive of post office box addresses, registration number of the contractor, the names of the salesperson, if any, who solicited or negotiated the contract and the date when said contract was executed by the parties;

(3) the date on which the work under the contract is scheduled to begin and the date on which said work is scheduled to be substantially completed;

(4) a detailed description of the work to be done and the materials to be used in the performance of said contract;

(5) the total amount agreed to be paid for the work to be performed under said contract;

(6) a time schedule of payments to be made under said contract and the amount of each payment stated in dollars, including all finance charges. Any deposit required under the contract to be paid in advance of the commencement of work under said contract shall not exceed the greater of one-third of the total contract price or the actual cost of any materials or equipment of a special order or custom made nature, which must be ordered in advance of the commencement of work, in order to assure that the project will proceed on schedule.  No final payment shall be demanded until the contract is completed to the satisfaction of the parties thereto;

(7) the signatures of all parties shall be affixed to the contract;

(8) there shall be a clear and conspicuous notice appearing in the contract:

that all contractors and subcontractors must be registered by the director and that any inquiries about a contractor or subcontractor relating to a registration should be directed to the director;

of the registration number of the contractor or subcontractor;

of an owner's three-day cancellation rights under section forty-eight of chapter ninety-three, section fourteen of chapter two hundred and fifty-five D, or section ten of chapter one hundred and forty D as may be applicable;

of all warranties and the owner's rights under the provisions of this act;

in ten point bold type or larger, directly above the space provided for the signature, ''Do not sign this contract if there are any blank spaces'';

of any lien on or security interest on the residence as a consequence of the contract.

(9) an enumeration of such other matters upon which the owner and the contractor may lawfully agree; provided, however, that no such agreement may waive any rights conveyed to the owner under the provisions of this chapter; and

(10) any other provision otherwise required by the applicable laws of the commonwealth

It is important to note that the burden falls on the contractor to make sure all of the above-information is included in the written contract.  The statute also includes other requirements that contractors should be aware of as well.  If the contractor fails to satisfy these requirements, the contractor may not only be liable for violations of the Home Improvement Contract Law, but also of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act (Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 93A).

If you have any questions about the Home Improvement Contractor Law, or if you are a contractor and want to make sure your contract is in compliance with Massachusetts General Laws chapter 142A, please feel free to contact the Law Offices of Samuel S. Reidy for a free consultation.

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