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New legislation would protect homeowners from corrupt contractors

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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Two new bills that are making their way through the general assembly right now would help homeowners take action against unscrupulous contractors.

If you’ve ever had a bad experience with a contractor — they you know the frustrations of thousands of homeowners.

As the law stands right now, if a contractor fails to comply with the Contractor’s Registration Board’s final order, it’s a misdemeanor.

But a new bill would make the same violation a felony — subjecting the person to 10 years in prison if the final order exceeds $5,000.

Most importantly, though, the bill would allow the defendant more time to pay the restitution fees, ensuring that the homeowners get the money that is owed to them.

Another bill would address the issue of unregistered contractors. In 2013, Target 12 had cameras rolling as the state conducted a sting and rounded up a number of unregistered contractors.

Right now unregistered contractors can be fined by the state’s contractor’s registration board — but if this bill passes that would change.

Any person who operates without a registration is deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and can be imprisoned for up to a year. They can also be fined up to $5,000 for a first offense.

A second offense carries a fine of up to $10,000.

In order to become a contractor in Rhode Island, all you need is to pay a registration fee and have proof of liability insurance — no experience necessary.

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