New Law Helps Protect Homeowners from Fraud After Natural Disasters
JOLIET – August 2, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today signed legislation that helps protect Illinois homeowners who are trying to recover following a natural disaster. He also signed a new law that ensures landlords are able to evict tenants who commit serious crimes on the rental property.
House Bill 3034 was sponsored by Rep. Ann Williams (D-Chicago) and Sen. A.J. Wilhelmi (D-Joliet) to help protect homeowners from contractors who prey upon individuals following natural disasters. Contractors known as “storm chasers” travel to towns after natural disasters and target homeowners, especially elderly citizens, through home repair scams. These contractors misrepresent themselves in order to persuade homeowners to sign contracts for home repairs. If the work is done at all, it oftentimes must be redone due to its poor quality.
“When disasters such as storms or flooding hit, the recovery process can be overwhelming, and some individuals use that as an opportunity to take advantage of vulnerable homeowners,” Governor Quinn said. “It is important that we do everything we can to stop dishonest contractors so that residents can focus their energy on rebuilding their homes and communities.”
"These "stormchasers" victimize consumers at the most vulnerable times," said Rep. Williams. "This bill will help to prevent unscrupulous contractors from taking advantage of homeowners desperate to pick up the pieces after a natural disaster."
The new law prohibits roofing contractors from allowing out of state roofing contractors to lease their license numbers for compensation. It also requires roofing contractors to include their license number on all contracts, bids and advertisements. Additionally, the law enables residents to cancel a contract and requires contractors to refund any payments within 10 days of the cancellation.
“When people are the victims of a natural disaster, the last thing they need to worry about is someone trying to take advantage of them in their time of need,” said Sen. Wilhelmi. “This law will prevent contractors from using unscrupulous practices to take advantage of victims and win contracts over more honest competitors."
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) issues licenses to roofing contractors and recommends that local governments require a roofing contractor to provide proof of an active state license prior to issuing a local building permit or business license. Individuals can also visit www.idfpr.com to look up roofing contractor licenses to determine whether they are active and in good standing. HB 3034 goes into effect Jan. 1.
Governor Quinn also signed Senate Bill 1766, sponsored by Sen. Wilhelmi and Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Chicago Heights). The law will help fight crime by requiring rental contracts to include an provision stating that tenants can be evicted for committing a felony or a Class A misdemeanor on the property. The new law goes into effect immediately.