January 1, 2013
By Bob Incollingo
The law on residential construction continues to evolve. I was working on new contracts for a client and saw that the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs now wants home improvement contractors to be careful not to hold themselves out as having a “license,” but rather to be specific that they have a “registration.” The DCA holds that the use of the word “license” to describe a remodeling contractor’s status with the Division is deceptive and misleading to consumers, and for that reason home improvement contractors must not use the word “license” in any advertisements, business documents, invoices, contracts or correspondence. Further, home improvement contractors must not use the word “license” when displaying the 13VH registration number on commercial vehicles. See, https://www.njconsumeraffairs.gov/HIC/licnotice.pdf.
The New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs (Division) takes the position that it “registers” home improvement contractors and does not “license” them. It’s kind of like the difference between a driver’s license and a vehicle registration. Just because your car has a current sticker doesn’t mean you know how to drive.
You will want to revise your contract documents and related paperwork in the prescribed way.
Robert J. Incollingo is a South Jersey construction lawyer and former chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association Construction Law Section whose practice focuses on representing private owners, design professionals, general contractors and trade contractors in litigation, arbitration and mediation.