Information on Ohio's Consumer Laws from Attorney Daniel Myers, Myers Law, LLC, not legal advice
The Ohio legislature has been active this year changing around longstanding consumer protection laws. First, law makers gave contractors the right to make an offer to their customers in order to avoid triple damages at trial. Now law makers have completely changed Ohio’s consumer law in regard to residential construction projects, and limited the types and amounts of damages homeowners can obtain from bad contractors. These new changes in HB 383, specifically written for and by the construction industry, are set to take effect August 31, 2012.
Under the old version of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), construction contractors had to comply with the formal requirements of the CSPA, including providing customers with different notices and various forms. If a contractor failed to do everything required, it could be liable for statutory and treble damages (triple damages) if sued by a homeowner.
Under the new law, Ohio contractors hired to perform work valued at $25,000 or more on a residence do not need to comply with the requirements of the CSPA. They may be forced to comply with other applicable laws, such as the Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) (3-day right to cancel), and they have to comply with new requirements under the new HB 383 law.
If the homeowner has a dispute with a contractor under the new law, and the value of the work is $25,000 or more, the homeowner can no longer recover triple damages. Attorney fees are still available, as are regular economic damages.
The upside of this new law is that contractors on these larger home construction projects must perform the minimum standards outlined by the Ohio Home Builder Association for residential construction work, which many times is a higher standard than the Ohio Residential Building Code. In some situations, contractors must provide even more information that they previously had to provide to consumers.
Only time will tell whether this law will help or hurt Ohio’s consumers. Contacting an attorney early in your dispute increases your chances of using this law in your favor.