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Are user agreements for home repairs legally enforceable?

IowaConstruction ContractLicenses

In Iowa storm chasers came onto a private mobile home park (unsolicited) and started giving house roof inspections for wind and hail damage. If they saw damage they pressured you to sign a user agreement stating you would contract them to do the repairs up to the amount approved by your insurance adjuster minus deductible. Insurance approved repairs but contractor never explained the damage or what they would do to repair it. Never produced a contract, not even an estimate. They only wanted me to turn over the insur. check. Is the user agreement valid, I signed thinking a contract or at least an estimate would be given me. There are three parties involved:me, my wife, and the bank. I was the only one who signed the agreement.

1 reply

May 30, 2019
That's an interesting situation. Without knowing exactly what the signed contract document entails and contains, it's hard to know whether that specific contract will be enforceable. However, in a very broad sense, user agreements for home repairs are enforceable in Iowa. Though, that doesn't mean that this agreement, in particular, is necessarily enforceable.

There are some considerations that will apply here, though. For one: in order to perform repair work, a contractor must be licensed and registered to perform that work. Often, storm chasers will come from the woodwork after a serious weather event - and if they come from out of state, or if they otherwise don't hold the correct licensure, they might not even be entitled to perform any work to begin with. By checking to see whether a contractor is licensed, an owner can better understand their rights as well as the rights of the contractor they signed a contract with. And, if the contractor is not licensed to perform the work, then it might be easier to back out of a signed agreement. To look into a contractor's licensure, you can perform a license search here: Iowa Workforce Development Registered Contractor Public Search.

Another thing to look into is the contract itself. Iowa places a fair amount of restrictions on contractors acting as door-to-door salespeople in Iowa. If the correct disclaimers and information weren't included in the contract, or if the right procedures weren't followed, to begin with, it might not even be a valid agreement. For more information on those requirements, here are Iowa's door-to-door sales rules: Door-to-Door Sales, §555A.1

It's also worth noting that, in most door-to-door sales situations in Iowa, a consumer will be entitled to cancel the agreement within 3 days. So, if the agreement was very recently entered into, it might be possible to void the agreement altogether. Specifically, the buyer will have the right to cancel the agreement by midnight of the third business day after the agreement was entered into. For more information on how to cancel the agreement, the door-to-door sales rules posted above can provide some clarity.

Ultimately, the best way to determine whether a signed contract will be binding will be to consult a local attorney familiar with construction regulations and door-to-door sales rules in Iowa. They'll be able to review the documentation and any other relevant info and advise on how best to proceed.

Finally, this resource should be helpful - it discusses a recent incident with a storm chasing contractor in Iowa where the buyer was able to get out of their contract: Contractor Agrees to Changes Following “Storm Chaser” Roofing Dispute
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