North Country Contractor To Pay $10,000 In Settlement

North Country Contractor To Pay $10,000 In Settlement

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A north country contractor will pay $10,000 to settle an investigation by state Attorney General A.G. Schneiderman.

In a statement, Schneiderman's office said St. Lawrence Home Building Corporation, based on Wellesley Island, repeatedly failed "to use contracts as required by state law."

"An investigation conducted by the Attorney General’s Office uncovered that, despite being put on direct notice of their legal obligations to use contracts in 2010 and 2013, the company continued to disregard the law," according to the statement. A spokesman for the Attorney General said the company mainly operated in Jefferson County.

The agreement requires the company, which Schneiderman's office said is owned by William DiTrinco, to use "compliant contracts" going forward and pay the $10,000 penalty.

From the Attorney General's press release... 

“For decades, St. Lawrence Home Building failed to provide homeowners with a written and signed contract before initiating projects. These agreements protect consumers and contractors alike, and are required by state law,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “I encourage New Yorkers to consult my tips before hiring a home improvement contractor – and contact my office right away if they suspect shady business practices.”   

In the fall of 2016, the Attorney General’s Office initiated an investigation into St. Lawrence Home Building after homeowners submitted a consumer complaint stating that the company improperly filed a construction lien on their property for more than $9,800 and refused to provide a home improvement contract. While mediating the complaint, the company stated that it had never used contracts in its decades of business operation. In 2010 and 2013, St. Lawrence Home Building was included in the Attorney General’s statewide home improvement contractor initiative aimed at ensuring contractors were complying with the law. Through that initiative, St. Lawrence Home Building was put on direct notice of its obligations to follow the law twice, and was subsequently notified of its failure to follow the law.

During the course of the investigation, and after having again been informed that the business was illegally engaging in major home improvement jobs without a contract, the business began improperly asking their clients to sign a waiver of the statutory contract requirements. DiTrinco has previously stated that he intends to close the business and dissolve the corporation. However, if he or his business operates as home improvement contractors in the future, the agreement requires that they use contracts that are compliant with New York General Business Law, and prohibits them from requesting that customers waive their legal protections. Additionally, St. Lawrence Home Building has agreed to waive the prior claim levied against a homeowner for $9,800."

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