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The Home Repair and Remodeling Act in Illinois has been the subject of some controversy lately.

The Act requires any person “engaging in the business of home repair and remodeling…to provide its customers a copy of the ‘Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights’ pamphlet prior” to the start of any work, if the contract exceeded $1000.00.  (Download PDF here:  Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights)

Clearly, this applies to a lot of folks.    The controversy in Illinois didn’t necessarily concern the pamphlet requirement itself, but the punishment levied against those who failed to provide the pamphlet.   According to the way the law was previously written (and / or interpreted by the courts), contracts were being invalidated as a whole and mechanic liens were disallowed.

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In an article written by Illinois real estate attorney for the Illinois State Bar Association, Adam Whiteman summarized the Act’s problem with this:

The Home Repair Act was not intended to automatically invalidate contracts and mechanic’s liens in the face of any technical violation. Such a result would have the effect of ignoring over 100 years of interpretation and application of the Mechanic’s Lien Act (770 ILCS 60/.01 et seq.). The Mechanic’s Lien act permits a lien based on an oral contract. As it is presently interpreted, the Home Repair Act forbids oral contracts in connection with home repair and remodeling projects.

So, the Home Repair and Remodeling Act is reportedly “fixed,” as per an act through the Illinois General Assembly and effective July 12, 2010.   Instead of the non-compliance resulting in invalid contracts and mechanics liens, the new law allows homeowners to pursue a remedy by suing the contractor under the consumer fraud act (a serious remedy, but not as severe).

This appears to be good news for Illinois remodelers and repair workers.   However, the pamphlet is still important.