Monday, October 20, 2008

Indiana Home Improvement Fraud: Give Notice or Hope to Prove Actual Fraud

The Court of Appeals makes clear that under Indiana's home improvement fraud statute the homeowner can lose their case even before they know they have a case. Pay close attention to this from Hayes v. Chapman (PDF format):

HICA explicitly provides that a supplier’s failure to provide a written contract is a deceptive act and brings that deceptive act under the purview of the remedies and penalties of Indiana Code chapter 24-5-0.5. I.C. § 24-5-11-14. But to establish entitlement to those remedies, the consumer must show that the deceptive act was either uncured—meaning that notice was given and the deceptive act was not cured—or incurable—meaning that the supplier acted with an intent to defraud or mislead the consumer. I.C. § 24-5-0.5-4(a).
This means if the contract is defective and the homeowner does not give the proper notice, then the homeowner has no case against the contractor.

I worry that the statute creates a laxness for contractors who may face an unnecessary lawsuit.

Contractors need to get to their lawyers for a contract that complies with the HICA and homeowners need to a lawyer to review their home improvement contracts.