Client Alert
June 25, 2009
Residential and Commercial Contractors Beware
Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

On July 1, 2009, the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (“HICPA”) takes effect, and imposes not only a requirement that a contractor register with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in the Office of Attorney General, but mandates, among other things, specific contract provisions and prohibitions.
Under HICPA, “home improvements” are defined very broadly and include, generally, repairs, replacement, remodeling, demolition, removal, renovation, installation, alternation, conversion, modernization, improvement, rehabilitation and sandblasting involving a “private residence” that cost more than $500.  A “private residence” is also defined broadly and includes, in addition to a single family dwelling, a multifamily dwelling consisting of not more than two units, and a single unit located within any multifamily dwelling, including condominiums and cooperative units.

Based on the definition of “private residence,” it would appear, at first blush, that a contractor renovating an apartment for the owner of a multi-unit apartment building would be subject to HICPA.  However, the definition of “owner” specifically excludes a person (which includes, for example, a corporation), who owns three or more private residences in Pennsylvania, except with regard to that person’s primary residence.  Accordingly, a contractor doing “home improvement” work for a landlord who owns three or more private residential units in Pennsylvania is not subject to HICPA for that work (unless it is the landlord’s own home).
But, how about a contractor doing “home improvement” work for a condominium, homeowners’ or cooperative association?  Is that work subject to HICPA?  At this point, the answer is unclear.  The language of HICPA is broad enough to suggest that such work would be subject to the requirements of HICPA.  Accordingly, until this issue is specifically addressed by the courts, it is our recommendation that any contractor doing “home improvement” work for a condominium, homeowners’ or cooperative association register as required by HICPA, and comply with the requirements of the law.


Watch Our Newsletter for More Details!

Cohen Seglias will be publishing a more in depth article on HICPA in its forthcoming newsletter. 

If you have questions concerning HICPA, please feel free to contact Jonathan A. Cass or Steven M. Williams.

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