The debacle of Hurricane IKE and the Texas wildfires saw rip-off contractors and fraudulent sales people. Many of these storm chasers as well as local contractors with their eye towards picking your pocket disappear after taking as much of your money as possible, leaving work undone or in need of re-doing.
**A 2011 Texas law will help with but NOT prevent rip-off contractors. **
As a reminder there is no builder or contractor licensing law in Texas and there never was one. The defunct Texas Residential Construction Commission (TRCC) was created to “register” homes and builders and contractors into a mandatory arbitration dispute resolution process. It was never a licensing agency and did not license builders or contractors. If your contractor was or is running around with a “license” number on his truck or business card then that in itself was and is mis-leading and deceptive.
**Texas 1711 Creates Significant Rules for Traveling Contractors **
Homeowners, builders and remodelers should to be aware of Texas 1711, which went into effect September 1. The bill applies to contractors who remove, clean, sanitize, demolish, reconstruct, or other treatment of improvements to real property because of damage or destruction to that property caused by natural disasters. The bill takes effect whenever the governor formally declares a natural disaster.
If a natural disaster occurs in the county where your contracting business is registered or any bordering county, HB 1711 does not apply as long as you have had a physical business address in the county for at least one year preceding the date of the contract.
However, if a natural disaster occurs at least two counties away from your historical legal business address your business must adhere to the following set of regulations:
Disaster Remediation Service or Repair - Disaster Remediation Services include removal, sanitization, demolishment, reconstruction and any other treatments your business performs for a customer in the event of a natural disaster.
Downpayments, Partial Payment, Prepayments Cannot Be Accepted - HB 1711 prohibits the acceptance of full or partial, even for material costs before the contractor begins work. Your business may collect partial payments throughout the course of work, but those payments must be proportionate to the amount of work performed.
Contracts Must Be in Writing - In order for work to begin immediately, a signed written contract must be in place between your business and your customer. Additionally, the contract must state (in a minimum of 10-point font), the following:
This contract is subject to Chapter 57, Business & Commerce Code. A contractor may not require a full or partial payment before the contractor begins work and may not require partial payments in an amount that exceeds an amount reasonably proportionate to the work performed, including any materials delivered.
DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICE. A violation of this chapter by a disaster remediation contractor is a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice as defined by Section 17.46(b), and any remedy under Subchapter E, Chapter 17, is available for a violation of this chapter.
WAIVER OF CHAPTER PROHIBITED. A person may not waive this chapter by contract or other means.**A purported waiver of this chapter is void
There were also big changes in Texas lien laws.
Attorneys can now get attorney fees which makes it more attractive for a small contractor to file a lien instead of giving up or filing wrong which then negates his lien. Lien filing can be somewhat intimidating in accordance with the steps and timelines one has to take before filing a lien.
If you file a bogus lien then you are subject to a minimum $1,000.00 fine from the AG. So you better be owed the money.
Evidently a gentleman from Montgomery County was filing liens on everything he could and inflating the amount owed. The number of liens were substantial and that county identified him as being a problem.
There’s much more to the Texas Lien Law and the contractor from Montgomery county but …I’m headed for a nap.
There are still persons claiming to be TRCC registered when they are not.
As they get busted (advertising) the TRCC list of builders/remodelers, phase inspectors and the dispute resolution inspectors is their downfall.