Consumer Protection Laws: Know Your Rights!

By Angela Ward, Attorney

Consumer protection laws protect you from deceit by a home seller, home improvement contractor, building contractor, car salesperson or other business providing goods and services. The Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law (UTPCPL) and the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act provide consumers with protection from unfair or deceptive acts or practices from businesses providing goods or services. The Acts provide consumers with significant leverage to redress grievances in a wide variety of consumer transactions ranging from building contractor services to motor vehicle sales and services and real estate sales.

You Could Recover up to Three Times the Cost of Damages

If you have problems with a home improvement contractor, a real estate seller or agent, a car salesperson, or other business people, contact The Law Offices of Going and Plank to pursue remedy – the law provides for recovery of your actual damages, costs, attorneys fees and, in extreme cases, a punitive measure of up to three times your actual damages.

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What’s Covered Under The Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law?

UTPCPL provides private remedies to consumers of “goods or services.” Sales of residential real estate are also within the purview of the UPTCPL. Unfair trade practices claims are now routinely included within fraud complaints against realtors and sellers of real estate. Further, with the 1996 amendments potentially gathering all manner of deceptive conduct within the “catchall” definition of unfair trade, there are surprisingly few hard limitations on what is and isn’t an unfair trade practice.

What’s Covered Under The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act?

The Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act protects consumers from home improvement contractors gone bad – of contracts not honored, and of unearned deposits not refunded. The term “home improvement” is broadly defined to include most repair, replacement, remodeling, demolition, renovation, installation, alteration, conversion, modernization, improvement, rehabilitation and sandblasting work done in connection with land or a portion of land adjacent to a private residence, so long as the total cash price of all work agreed upon between the contractor and the owner is more than $500.00.

The term “home improvement” also includes construction, replacement, installation or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, porches, garage roofs, HVAC and solar energy systems, security systems, flooring, patios, fences, gazebos, sheds, windows, awnings, and waterproofing. Home improvement only applies to work done in connection with a “private residence,” which term includes a single family dwelling, a multifamily dwelling consisting of not more than two units, or any single unit located within any multifamily dwelling, including condominiums and co-op units.

Consumer Protection Acts provide for recovery of actual damages the consumer has sustained, all costs, interest and attorney’s fees. In addition, in cases of extreme bad conduct, the consumer may be awarded triple damages or up to three times the actual damages the consumer has sustained.

Lancaster County: Have You Been Cheated by a Contractor, Real Estate Agent or Other Business?

If you have been cheated by a home improvement contractor, a real estate seller or agent, a car salesperson, or other business people, contact the Law Offices of Going and Plank to pursue remedy. We may be able to help you recover of damages and costs including attorney’s fees and, in extreme cases, obtain a punitive measure of up to three times your actual damages.

Teresa Wagner

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