Home Improvement Disputes
New Jersey Construction Litigation Lawyers Handling Home Improvement Disputes
Home improvements can sometimes turn into a nightmare for the homeowner or contractor. When disputes can't be resolved without legal action, two New Jersey laws can play a very important role in the outcome.
Contact John Petriello to learn how Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin, Plaza & Reed, Attorneys at Law can help bring about a satisfactory resolution to a home improvement-related dispute.
New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act
The New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act (CFA) provides a remedy for homeowners who feel they are the victims of fraudulent or unconscionable conduct by contractors. The CFA provides for an important remedy for the homeowner — an award of triple the damages suffered, and an award of attorneys' fees and costs.
The New Jersey Attorney General has mandated certain requirements for an agreement between a homeowner and contractor. The failure of a contractor to include these provisions in a construction contract can result in a finding of a violation of the CFA.
These requirements include the legal name, business address, and registration number of the contractor; a copy of the certificate of commercial general liability insurance; the total price or other consideration to be paid by the owner, including the finance charges; a provision notifying the homeowner of a right to cancel the contract within three business days; the start and end date for the work; and other specified requirements.
In addition, the CFA provides a remedy for misrepresentations made by the contractor. This is a rapidly expanding field of law that extends well beyond just payment disputes.
Construction Lien Law
The Construction Lien Law (CLL) provides a unique procedure for filing a construction lien claim on residential projects.
A lien claimant must file an NUB and serve it upon the owner of the property and any other contracting parties. The lien claimant must simultaneously file a demand for arbitration with the American Arbitration Association (AAA).
The AAA is required to establish an arbitration to determine the amount that the lien claimant may include in the construction lien. This determination includes any back charges, credits, counterclaims, or other defenses raised against the lien claimant. If the arbitrator cannot make this determination, the arbitrator is required to order the lien claimant to post a bond, letter of credit, or funds with an attorney-at-law of the state of New Jersey, or such other person whom the arbitrator may designate, in an amount of 110 percent of the fair and reasonable value of the set-offs or counterclaims.
The arbitrator is required to make his/her determination within 30 days from receipt of the demand for arbitration. The lien claimant has 10 days from the date of the award to file a construction lien.
This whole process does not extend the 120-day time period to file a construction lien claim. Therefore, a lien claimant on residential property must be diligent, to afford sufficient time for the arbitration process.
Construction Lien Attorneys Handling Disputes in Newark & New Jersey
The statute provides for the imposition of attorneys' fees and costs in the event the NUB is determined to be without basis, overstated, or not substantially in the form, manner, in the time required by the CLL.
If an NUB is filed, and the owner sells before a lien claim is filed, the owner may make a deposit with the county clerk in an amount equal to the amount identified in the NUB. The clerk is directed to discharge the NUB.
In the event of the sale of the property, the amount of all liens may not exceed the amount due under the sale, less any amount due for recorded mortgages or liens other than construction liens. Each lien claim is reduced pro rata.
To discuss these and other aspects of any legal matter related to home improvements, contact John Petriello at Ehrlich, Petriello, Gudin, Plaza & Reed, Attorneys at Law.