Information on Ohio's Consumer Laws from Attorney Daniel Myers, Myers Law, LLC, not legal advice
When you think about a home solicitation, the first thing that comes to mind are usually door-to-door salespeople trying to sell encyclopedias, knives, or vacuum cleaners. But almost every home improvement or repair agreement is a home solicitation, even when the homeowner is the person who reached out to the contractor first. Why does this matter? Ohio’s Home Solicitation Sales Act (HSSA) protects consumers from high pressure sales tactics engaged in by door-to-door salespeople and construction contractors alike.
A lot of consumers, even experienced judges, are surprised when they hear this for the first time.
Under the Ohio HSSA law, home solicitations occur whenever a contractor, even at the invitation of the homeowner, goes out to a residence to prepare a quote/estimate and afterwards enters into an agreement with the homeowner at the residence or some other location other than the contractor’s business establishment. This means nearly every home improvement, renovation, or repair contract is a home solicitation sale–most of these agreements are entered into at the residence of the homeowner, whether they are on paper or with a handshake.
In 2013, the Eighth District Court of Appeals in Cuyahoga County confirmed this fact. In Garber v. STS Concrete Co., LLC, a homeowner approached a concrete installation contractor who was working on his neighbor’s home. Even though the homeowner initiated the first conversation with the contractor, the Court held that the contractor engaged in a home solicitation sale. Because the contractor was considered to have solicited the homeowner, the homeowner had a right to cancel the contract and receive a full refund of all monies paid to the contractor, even though the work was completed.
Although there are a few exceptions under this law, in general the HSSA applies to all residential construction, improvement, repair, and renovation agreements. Why is this important? A lot of homeowners tell me “I called my contractor, he didn’t solicit me.” That is usually only be half true. The contractors did solicit them, and the homeowners have special rights because of that.
If you are a homeowner who is unhappy with the shoddy work that your contractor performed, or feel that you were treated unfairly or lied to by your contractor, this means you may have the right to cancel your agreement and receive a full refund, even many years after the work is performed. Don’t give up or write it off as a “learning experience.” When your consumer rights are violated, you can, and should, do something about it. In order to do this the right way (yes, there is a wrong way) it is essential to contact an attorney to guide you through the process and likely litigation. A good attorney can tell you if it is worth your time and resources to pursue this option, or others.
I heard of the HSSA for the first time today while I was in small claims court suing a contractor. While it appears I am likely to prevail due to a preponderance of the evidence, per the magistrate, I was harshly informed by the defendant that I better have a lot of money for lawyer fees, as he was going to appeal the magistrate’s decision. It seems now though, the question is not about the original issue, asbestos abatement, but rather my rights as a consumer to cancel our contract. The magistrate mentioned the HSSA while he was discussing our case with us. The contractor did not provide me about my right to cancel. Slam dunk for me, right?
No such thing as a slam dunk ever, but it can be a very important and very helpful law for consumers. Because I didn’t represent you in the small claims case (in fact your case may actually be larger than you thought it was), I cannot give you my thoughts or advice. If you run into problems, feel free to contact me in the future, but I wish you the best of luck in standing up to these businesses out there.
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