Monday, March 21, 2011

Home Improvement Bill Moving Forward-Save Homeowners from Losing Money to faulty contractors

Eileen Ambrose’s fine article in the Sunday Sun told the story of one of the many Maryland families who have been victimized by abusive home contractors and offered some good advice about how homeowners can protect themselves when they remodel their homes.  Here’s the link: http://www.baltimoresun.com/business/money/bs-bz-ambrose-home-improvement-20110320,0,3093001.story

Including much stronger consumer protection in the legislation to renew the Maryland Home Improvement Commission will help protect all Marylanders from that kind of abuse.  That’s why MCRC is working to ensure the legislation requires home improvement contractors to disclose the rights of consumers more clearly, creates a reliable database for consumer complaints against contractors and provides better insurance for homeowners.

Today the MHIC’s Guaranty Fund offers some insurance to homeowners whose renovation projects cost less than $20,000 but offers little protection to those doing more costly renovations. We’re calling for the state to require contractors to provide a performance bond that would guarantee the work on projects costing more than $25,000. Such bonds would add just .5% to 2% to the cost of the job and contractors would be free to add that cost to their fees.  That’s a simple an inexpensive way to protect homeowners with expensive projects from the high costs of shoddy or incomplete work.

The law should also require MHIC to establish a searchable database that lists licensed contractors and the complaints lodged against them. The Maryland Board of Physicians has set up  such a database that clearly lists complaints against state physicians and establishing such a system for contractors would make it much easier for homeowners to make well-informed renovation choices.

Please  let your state senators and delegates know that you want these reforms to be part of the MHIC bill (HB 362/SB236). Members of the Senate Education, Health and Environment Committee and the House Business Regulation Subcommittee are particularly important to the process. Delegates on that subcommittee include
Michael L. Vaughn, chair               301.858.3691michael.vaughn@house.state.md.us
Aisha Braveboy,               301.858.3707aisha.braveboy@house.state.md.us
Emmett C. Burns, Jr.       410.841.3352Emmett.burns@house.state.md.us
Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio             410.841.3429Jeannie.haddaway@house.state.md.us
Benjamin F. Kramer        301.858.3485Benjamin.kramer@house.state.md.us
Joseph J. Minnick             410.841.3332Joseph.Minnick@house.state.md.us
David D. Rudolph             410.841.3444  David.Rudolph@house.state.md.us
Steven Schuh                    410.841.3206 Steve.schuh@house.state.md.us
Kelly Schulz                         410-841-3080Kelly.Schulz@house.state.md.us
Contact information for members of the Senate EHE Committee is listed below in the March 15 entry.

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