What is HICPA and when does it apply?

73 P.S. § 517.1, et. seq. is known as the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (“HICPA”).   73 P.S. § 517.1 (“This act shall be known and may be cited as the Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act.”)  HICPA was enacted to regulate home improvement contracts and to prohibit certain acts in the home improvement industry.  Act 2008 Pa. Legis. Serv. Act 2008-132 (S.B. 100).  HICPA applies to contractors performing home improvements which costs $500 or more. HICPA defines a “contractor” as “Any person who owns and operates a home improvement business or who undertakes, offers to undertake or agrees to perform any home improvement. The term includes a subcontractor or independent contractor who has contracted with a home improvement retailer, regardless of the retailer’s net worth, to provide home improvement services to the retailer’s customers.”  73 P.S. § 517.2 HICPA defines a home improvement as “[r]epair, replacement, remodeling, demolition, removal, renovation, installation, alteration, conversion, modernization, improvement, rehabilitation or sandblasting. The cost of which totals $500 or more.”  Id. HICPA defines a home improvement contract as “[a]n agreement between a contractor, subcontractor or salesperson and an owner for the performance of a home improvement which includes all agreements for labor, services and materials to be furnished and performed under the contract. Id.

A home improvement contract is void if it does not comply with HICPA

Under Section 517.7(a) of the Act, if a construction contract fails to contain any of the enumerated items set forth in Section 7(a), the contract is void and unenforceable.  See 73 P.S. § 517.7(a); Shafer Elec. & Const. v. Mantia, 626 Pa. 258, 96 A.3d 989 (2014)(“Section 517.7(a), speaks to enforceable and valid home improvement contracts, and provides that for a contract to be enforceable and valid, it must comply with the thirteen clauses of subsection (a).”)

73 P.S. § 517.7(a) states in relevant part and subpart:

“No home improvement contract shall be valid and enforceable against an owner unless it:

(1)       is in writing and contains the home improvement contractor registration number of the performing contractor;

(6)   Contains the approximate starting date and completion date;

(8)  Includes a description of the work to be performed, the materials to be used and a set of specifications that cannot be changed without a written change order signed by the owner and the contractor;

(12)  Includes the toll-free telephone number under section 3(b);

(13)  Includes a notice of the right of rescission under subsection (b).

73 P.S. § 517.7(a)(1), (6), (8), (12), and (13)

Under HICPA, an award of triple damages and attorneys fees is mandatory

HICPA is a strict liability statute. Under HICPA, “[a] violation of any of the provisions of this act shall be deemed a violation of the act of December 17, 1968 (P.L. 1224, No. 387),1 known as the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. 73 P.S. § 517.10.”   73 P.S. § 517.10 (emphasis added). Under the UTPCPL, plaintiffs are awarded trebel (triple) damages and attorneys fees.