(Mobile, Alabama) In response to the recent damage caused by the tornadoes, please be reminded that Alabama Law strictly prohibits any fraud commited against homeowners. Those convicted of misrepresenting their credentials to homeowners while soliciting business may be convicted of a Class A Misdemeanor.
Anyone with information about cases of fraud is encouraged to contact the Mobile County District Attorney’s Office at 574-8400.
See ACT2006580 below:
ENROLLED, An Act,
To provide for the offense of home repair fraud; to provide for definitions of phrases, elements of the offense, penalties for a first and subsequent offenses, certain determinations of intent, knowledge, and substantial performance, and for monetary restitution for victims; and in connection therewith would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds within the meaning of Amendment 621 of the Constitution of Alabama of 1901.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF ALABAMA:
Section 1. As used in this act, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings:
(1)a. HOME REPAIR. The repairing, replacing, altering, or the construction or renovation of an addition to a building on real property which is or will be primarily used as a residence.
b. Home repair shall include: The construction, installation, replacement, repairing, or renovation of driveways, swimming pools, porches, kitchens, chimneys, chimney liners, garages, fences, fallout shelters, central air conditioning, central heating, boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, electrical wiring, sewers, plumbing fixtures, storm doors, storm windows, awnings, roofs, insulation, and other improvements to structures within the residence or upon the real property adjacent thereto.
c. Home repair shall not include: The sale, installation, cleaning, or repair of carpets; the sale of goods or materials by a merchant who does not directly or through a subsidiary perform any work or labor in connection with the installation or application of the goods or materials; the repair, installation, replacement, or connection of any home appliance including, but not limited to, disposals, refrigerators, ranges, garage door openers, television cables, antennas or dishes, washing machines, telephones, or other home appliances when the person replacing, installing, repairing, or connecting such home appliance is an employee or agent of the merchant that sold the home appliance; the performance of repairs to a manufactured home or a mobile home pursuant to a manufacturer’s or retailer’s warranty or service agreement; or landscaping.
d. Home repair shall not include home repair made by not-for-profit charitable organizations.
(2) PERSON. Any individual, partnership, corporation, business, trust, or other legal entity.
(3) RESIDENCE. A single or multiple family dwelling including, but not limited to, a single-family home, apartment building, condominium, duplex, townhouse, or mobile home which is used or intended to be used by its occupants as their dwelling place.
Section 2. (a) A person commits the offense of home repair fraud when the person intentionally and knowingly does any of the following:
(1) Enters into an agreement or contract for consideration, written or oral, with a person for home repair, and the offending person knowingly engages in any one or more of the following deceptive activities:
a. Misrepresentation of a material fact relating to the terms of the contract or agreement or the preexisting or existing condition of any portion of the property involved, or the creation or confirmation of another’s impression which is false and which the offending person does not believe to be true, or promises performance which the offending person does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed.
b. Use or employment of any deception, false pretense, or false promises in order to induce, encourage, or solicit a person to enter into any contract or agreement.
c. Misrepresentation or concealment of either the offending person’s real name or the name of his or her business or business address.
d. Use of deception, coercion, or force to obtain a person’s consent to modification of the terms of the original contract or agreement.
(b) Damages the property of a person with the intent to enter into an agreement or contract for home repair.
(c) Misrepresents himself or herself or another person as being an employee or agent of any unit of federal, state, or municipal government or any other governmental unit, or an employee or agent of any public utility, with the intent to cause a person to enter into a contract or agreement for home repair.
Section 3. Intent and knowledge of a person alleged to have committed home repair fraud shall be determined by an evaluation of all circumstances surrounding a home repair and the determination shall not be limited to the time of the origination of the contract or agreement.
Section 4. Substantial performance of a home repair contract may be used as a mitigating circumstance and may be raised as a defense by a person alleged to have committed home repair fraud. Home repair performed in a manner which is of little or no value, or home repair that fails to materially comply with the appropriate municipal, county, state, or federal building regulations or codes is not substantial performance.
Section 5. Violations of this section shall be punished as follows:
(1) A first conviction shall be a Class A misdemeanor.
(2) A second or subsequent conviction shall be a Class C felony.
Section 6. In addition to any other sentence the court may impose pursuant to Section 5, the court shall order the defendant to make restitution to the victim as a condition of probation, either within a specified period of time or in specified installments. The order shall not be enforceable during the period of imprisonment unless the court expressly finds that the defendant has assets to pay the amounts ordered at the time of sentencing. Intentional refusal to make restitution pursuant to a court order may be considered as grounds for revocation of the person’s probation or suspension of sentence.
Section 7. Although this bill would have as its purpose or effect the requirement of a new or increased expenditure of local funds, the bill is excluded from further requirements and application under Amendment 621 because the bill defines a new crime or amends the definition of an existing crime.
Section 8. The provisions of this act are severable. If any part of this act is declared invalid or unconstitutional, that declaration shall not affect the part which remains.
Section 9. This act shall become effective on the first day of the third month following its passage and approval by the Governor, or its otherwise becoming law.