FREEHOLD, NJ – Last evening’s violent thunderstorms may have left some residents with  unanticipated repair bills. Before hiring a contractor to make those repairs, the Monmouth County Department of Consumer Affairs wants you to be aware of the following:

  • Home improvement contractors, including landscapers, must be registered with the state;
  • New Jersey Contractor Registration Law states you have three days to cancel your contract;  Make sure you cancel in writing and send it by certified mail;
  • Check out the contractor’s complaint history and registration status by calling 732-431-7900. Or, look online at www.njconsumeraffairs.gov;
  • New Jersey law does not dictate pricing. A business can charge whatever it wishes for a repair.  Do your homework and get some estimates. You cannot get your money back if you agreed to the price. Don’t make final payment until all work is completed;
  • Make sure your warranty is in writing.  If it is not, you don’t have one;
  • Find out if permits are needed. The homeowner is ultimately responsible for obtaining the permits and inspections.

“Storm damage takes homeowners by surprise and puts them in a predicament whereby they may need to make repairs right away,” Freeholder Director Lillian G. Burry said. “I urge residents to do their homework and contact the county Department of Consumer Affairs for assistance.”

The county Consumer Affairs office investigates auto repair shops, landscapers, mail order purchases and Internet sales on behalf of Monmouth County residents. So far in 2010, the department has recovered $354,000 in restitution for county customers. Contact the office at 732-431-7900.

“We are focused on helping residents resolve all consumer-related issues,” said Patricia Watson, department director.