Suffolk County, NY
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[Adopted 6-10-1997 by L.L. No. 14-1997]

§ 563-104 Legislative intent.

A. 
This Legislature hereby finds that sellers of home furnishings are not currently licensed under any chapters of the Suffolk County Code.
B. 
This Legislature also finds that establishment of a licensing requirement for sellers of home furnishings would provide the Office of Consumer Affairs with the means necessary to levy/collect fines and approve applications, thereby enhancing the enforcement abilities of the Office of Consumer Affairs and, in essence, regulating this currently unregulated sector.
C. 
This Legislature also finds and determines, after input from consumers and persons in the industry, that the health, safety and general welfare of the consumers of Suffolk County will be enhanced if provision is made for the licensing of persons engaged in selling home furnishings.

§ 563-105 Definitions.

For purposes of this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
CARPETS
All carpets (fiber, sheet vinyl and linoleum), wall-to-wall and the like, which require installation and area rugs/carpets which are custom-made to order. It shall not be intended to mean pre-made area rugs/carpets that are delivered from available stock.
CONSUMER
A natural person who is solicited to purchase or who purchases home furnishings.
[Added 5-13-2008 by L.L. No. 15-2008]
DIRECTOR
The Director of the Office of Consumer Affairs.
FURNITURE
Chairs, tables, cabinets (excluding kitchen cabinets), desks, sofas, bedding, chests and other articles of personal property similarly used to furnish a home. The term does not include lamps and lighting fixtures.
HOME FURNISHINGS
New furniture and carpets which have not been the subject of a previous retail sale.
[Amended 4-28-2015 by L.L. No. 15-2015]
OFFICE
The Suffolk County Executive's Office of Consumer Affairs.
SELLER
Any person, partnership, corporation or association engaged in the selling of home furnishings.

§ 563-106 License required.

A. 
It is unlawful for any person to engage in the selling of furniture or carpets without obtaining a license therefor from the Office in accordance with and subject to the provisions of this article.
B. 
A license issued pursuant to this article may not be construed to authorize the license to perform any work or engage in any business which is reserved to qualified licensees under separate provisions of state or local law or other articles of this code.

§ 563-107 Application procedure; qualifications; issuance of license.

[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
A. 
All applications for licenses shall be submitted in writing on forms furnished by the Office and shall be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee of $200.
[Amended 8-5-2008 by L.L. No. 32-2008]
B. 
The license application shall be filed by an actual owner or partner of a business and shall be signed under oath. Where a corporation is an applicant or a participant in an application, the application shall be signed under oath by an officer of such corporation.
C. 
All applications shall include the names and residence address of all owners, partners and/or corporate officers. Any assumed business names or other corporate names, current or previous, shall also be included on the application.
D. 
The Director may require submission of the names and residence addresses of any employees of the applicant, in addition to any other information which he may deem advisable and proper.
E. 
Any individual applicant and any individual who subscribes his name to the application must be at least 18 years of age, of good character and financially responsible.
F. 
The Director shall investigate such applicants as to good character and financial responsibility before he shall issue the applicant a license.
G. 
Applicants shall meet such further qualifications as may be prescribed by this article and any other appropriate article of this chapter.
H. 
The Office shall issue a license or temporary license to each applicant who has submitted satisfactory evidence of his qualifications and who has complied with all requirements of this article and any other appropriate article of this chapter.

§ 563-108 Term of licenses; renewal; conditions.

A. 
Initially, all licenses, except temporary licenses, shall be for a period of two years from the date of issuance thereof, at the discretion of the Office, and shall expire on the last day of the 24th month of such issuance. Subsequent renewals shall be for periods of two years.
[Amended 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
B. 
The fee for a home furnishings license shall be $200 per annum, and the biennial renewal fee shall be $400. The fee for initial licenses issued for two years shall be $400.
[Amended 11-30-2001 by L.L. No. 23-2001; 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
C. 
Failure to make application and pay the required annual fee for a license renewal prior to the expiration date of said license shall render the license null and void on the expiration date and require the licensee to submit a new application for an original license. Compliance with the provisions of this section shall entitle the licensee to the renewal of his license, provided that such license has not been suspended or revoked by the Director prior to the expiration date.
D. 
If an individual licensee enters the Armed Forces of the United States, his license shall continue in force after the date of his entrance into the Armed Forces until six months after the date of termination of his first enlistment. If such licensee does not apply for renewal within this period, his license shall terminate without any notice of action by the Office.
E. 
The death of an individual licensee issued pursuant to this article shall terminate such license.
F. 
A license issued in the name of an individual may be assigned or transferred for the remainder of the license period to a partnership, corporation or other entity, provided that the individual holding such license is a general partner of such partnership, the owner of not less than 25% of the outstanding voting shares of such corporation or the holder of not less than a twenty-five-percent interest in any other entity at the time of the assignment or transfer. The application for such transfer or assignment must be accompanied by evidence satisfactory to the Director that the above set forth requirements have been satisfied. No assignment or transfer shall become effective until proper endorsement evidencing said transfer or assignment has been made on the face of the license by the Director and such license, so endorsed, has been returned to the assignee or transferee. All such endorsements shall be made by the payment of a fee of $25.
[Amended 11-30-2001 by L.L. No. 23-2001; 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
G. 
A license issued pursuant to this article shall be conspicuously posted in the place of business of the licensee.
H. 
Each individual licensee, shall, within seven business days after a change of control of ownership or of management, apply for the assignment or transfer of a license specified in Subsection F or such license shall terminate. Every other licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of control in ownership or management, notify the Office in writing of such change.
I. 
No licensee shall authorize or permit the use of his license by or on behalf of any other person.
J. 
Each licensee shall, within seven business days after a change of address or trade name, notify the Office in writing of such change.
K. 
All advertising shall include a Suffolk County Office of Consumer Affairs license number. This requirement shall not apply to sellers whose annual sales revenue from home furnishings does not exceed 50% of the sellers' total gross annual sales revenue from all goods.
L. 
No applicant for a license or license renewal shall have any outstanding judgment for child support against him or her, or be in arrears in child-support payments as determined by official court records or official government records, at the time an application is filed for such license or license renewal. If an applicant has such a judgment against him or her, or is in such arrears, but is current in payments on a judicially approved, or Child Support Enforcement Bureau sanctioned, payment schedule to pay off or reduce such judgment or arrears, then such individual shall not be deemed ineligible for a license or license renewal on the grounds of such judgment or arrears. At least 30 days prior to the expiration of a license, the Office shall send a written notice to a licensee informing said licensee of his or her obligation to comply with the provisions of this section pertaining to compliance with child-support obligations. If necessary, a second written notice shall be sent by the Office to a licensee 60 days after the license has lapsed informing said licensee of his or her obligation to comply with the provisions of this section pertaining to compliance with the child-support obligations. In addition, the County Department of Social Services, through its Child Support Enforcement Bureau, shall notify all current noncustodial parents of the obligations contained herein.
[Added 6-6-2000 by L.L. No. 11-2000]

§ 563-109 Duplicate and supplementary licenses.

[Amended 11-30-2001 by L.L. No. 23-2001; 12-17-2002 by L.L. No. 4-2003]
A. 
A duplicate license may be issued for a license which has been lost, destroyed or mutilated, upon application therefor on a form prescribed by the Director and the payment of a fee of $25. Each such duplicate license shall have the word "duplicate" stamped across the face thereof and shall bear the same number as the one it replaces.
B. 
A licensee shall obtain a supplementary license for each additional place of business maintained by such licensee within the County of Suffolk upon application therefor on a form prescribed by the Director and the payment of a fee of $50 per annum. It may be renewed biennially for a fee of $100. Each such supplementary license shall have the word "supplementary" stamped across the face thereof, shall bear the same number as the original and shall be conspicuously posted in each additional place of business.

§ 563-110 Effect on validity of contracts.

A contract entered into on or after one year from the effective date of this article by a person who engages in a business regulated by this chapter, who, on the date of the contract, does not possess a valid license to engage in such business, is unenforceable by him and voidable at the option of any other party to the contract rendered or to be rendered to such party. Nothing contained herein shall be construed to prevent any other party to the contract from enforcing its terms.

§ 563-111 Escrow requirement.

[Added 5-13-2008 by L.L. No. 15-2008; amended 12-4-2012 by L.L. No. 5-2013]
A. 
All monies paid by a consumer to a seller as a deposit for the purchase of home furnishings shall continue to be the money of the person making such deposit, and shall be a trust fund in the possession of the seller and shall be deposited by the seller within 10 business days thereafter by the recipient in an escrow account in a bank, trust company, savings bank or state or federal savings and loan association. The seller shall notify the consumer within 15 business days, in writing, of the name and address of the bank, trust company, savings bank or state or federal savings and loan association and the amount deposited.
B. 
All monies so deposited shall not be mingled with other funds or become an asset of the seller, excepting, however, that such trust funds may be deposited with other funds that have been paid to the seller as a deposit for the purchase of home furnishings.
C. 
All monies shall be held in trust until they are repaid to the consumer or until they are fully applied to the purchase price at the time the subject home furnishings are delivered to the consumer, except that in the event purchased home furnishings are offered for delivery by the seller but the consumer delays final delivery of same, the seller may use the monies held in escrow to pay the manufacturer of the subject home furnishings and other appropriate expenses relating to the pending sale.
D. 
The escrow requirements set forth in this section shall not apply to transactions in which the seller delivers the purchased home furnishings within 10 business days of the receipt of deposit or where a consumer uses a credit card to place a deposit for the purchase of home furnishings.

§ 563-112 Penalties for offenses; suspension or revocation of licenses.

A. 
The Director shall have the power to impose a fine not to exceed $500 per violation upon a licensee or to suspend or revoke a license or to deny an application for the renewal of a license for any one or more of the following causes:
(1) 
Fraud, deceit, misrepresentation or bribery in securing a license.
(2) 
The making of any false statement in an application for a license.
(3) 
Violation of §§ 396-u and 396-t of the New York General Business Law or Chapter 387, Consumer Protection, of the Suffolk County Code or a violation of any provision of this article, any other appropriate article of this chapter or any rule or regulation promulgated thereunder.
B. 
No license shall be suspended or revoked nor a fine imposed until after a hearing has been held before the Director upon at least seven business days' notice to the licensee. Such notice shall be served either personally or by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the last known address of the licensee and shall state the date the place of the hearing as well as enumerate the grounds constituting the allegations against such licensee. The licensee may be represented by counsel and may produce witnesses in his own behalf. A record of the hearing shall be taken and preserved. For purposes of such hearing, the Director may administer oaths, take testimony, subpoena witnesses and compel the production of books, papers, records or other documents deemed pertinent to the subject of the hearing.
C. 
In the event that the seller fails to provide a refund or credit, the Director may order any licensee under this article who has been found by the Director to have failed to provide, within 30 days, any refund or credit to which a customer is entitled under this article to pay to the customer the full amount of the refund or credit that was due plus an amount equal to the lesser of twice the amount of the full refund or credit that was due or $1,000. The remedies in this subsection are in addition to any other remedies to which the customer may be entitled under applicable law.

§ 563-113 Prohibited acts.

The following acts shall be prohibited:
A. 
Failing to provide or failing to install the contracted-for merchandise and then failing to provide a refund of any deposit.
B. 
Delivering or installing defective or nonconforming merchandise and then failing to remedy the defect.
C. 
The making of any substantial misrepresentation in the solicitation or procurement of a contract or the making of any false promise likely to influence, persuade or induce entry into a contract.
D. 
Directly or indirectly publishing any advertisement relating to goods or services offered by the licensee which contains an assertion, representation or statement of fact which is false, deceptive or misleading, provided that any advertisement which is subject to and complies with the then-existing rules, regulations or guides of the Federal Trade Commission shall not be deemed false, deceptive or misleading.
E. 
Advertising or purporting to offer for sale to the general public any item of home furnishing with the intent not to sell said item at the price which is advertised to the public.
F. 
Conducting a business in any name other than the one for which the licensee holds a license.
G. 
Failing to place a consumer's deposit in escrow as required by this article.
[Added 5-13-2008 by L.L. No. 15-2008]

§ 563-114 Powers and duties of Director; disposition of funds; liability.

A. 
In addition to the powers and duties elsewhere prescribed in this chapter, the Director shall have the power to:
(1) 
Keep records of all licenses issued, suspended or revoked and all fines adjudged.
(2) 
Issue temporary licenses as may be necessary.
(3) 
Promulgate such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this article as may be necessary with respect to the form and content of applications for licenses, reception thereof, investigation of applicants and their qualifications, the conduct, including advertising, of occupations regulated by this article and other matters incidental or appropriate to his/her powers and duties as prescribed by this article and for the proper administration and enforcement of the provisions of this article; and to amend or repeal any such rules and regulations.
(4) 
Require reasonable information of an applicant or licensee, including the production of books, papers, records and other documents.
B. 
No rules or regulation may be promulgated pursuant to Subsection A(3) herein unless a public hearing is held by the Director. At least seven business days' prior notice of such public hearing shall be published in the official newspapers of the County. A copy of all rules and regulations promulgated and any amendments thereto shall be filed in the Office of the Clerk of the County Legislature.
C. 
Whenever, in this article, the Director is empowered to or charged with the responsibility to do or perform any act, he may deputize, in writing, any officer or employee of the Office to do or perform the act in his place and stead.
D. 
Disposition of moneys received. All fees received by the Department pursuant to the provisions of this article shall be remitted to the County Comptroller for deposit in the general fund of the County or in the fund established under this article, as appropriate, within 30 days after they are received.
[Amended 6-17-2014 by L.L. No. 32-2014]
E. 
Liability for damage. This article shall not be construed to relieve from or lessen the responsibility of any person licensed under the provisions hereof for any loss of life or damage to person or property, nor shall the County of Suffolk be deemed to have assumed any such liability by reason of the issuance of any license.

§ 563-115 Advisory board.

A. 
The County Executive shall appoint, subject to the approval of the County Legislature, a five-member Home Furnishings Board. Said Board shall be composed of individuals having a personal knowledge of and interest in the home furnishings business, such as representatives of labor, management, trade or professional associations and appropriate representatives of government. The designee of said Office shall be appointed by the Director of the Suffolk County Executive's Office of Consumer Affairs. The Director or his designee shall serve as secretary of the Board. The Director of the Suffolk County Executive's Office of Consumer Affairs shall serve as a nonvoting ex officio member of such Board.
B. 
For the initial appointment only, three members of the Board shall be appointed for three-year terms and two members for two-year terms. All appointments thereafter shall be for three-year terms.
C. 
Compensation. No members of the Board shall be compensated for performing the duties of said Board. Reasonable and necessary expenses incurred by a member carrying out the duties defined herein shall be compensable by the County of Suffolk.
D. 
Powers and duties. The licensing board shall have the following powers and duties:
(1) 
To hold meetings at regular times and places for the efficient discharge of the responsibilities and duties of the board.
(2) 
To make rules for the conduct of its meetings and to keep a minute book of its proceedings and other official actions.
(3) 
To formulate and recommend to the County Legislature, for adoption or amendment, a code of rules governing the home furnishings business. Before making such recommendations, the Board shall confer and meet with the representatives of the home furnishings industry.
(4) 
To formulate and recommend to the County Legislature, for adoption or amendment, rules and standards for the issuance, suspension and revocation of licenses, including the conditions for the issuance of the same, the terms and fees and the conditions upon and the circumstances under which the same may be revoked or suspended.

§ 563-116 Unlicensed activities.

[Amended 3-23-2010 by L.L. No. 7-2010]
In addition to any civil penalties imposed by the Director pursuant to this article or pursuant to any provisions of any County local law, County resolution or County ordinance pertaining to consumer affairs, consumer protection, or any matter subject to the jurisdiction of the Department, including, but not limited to, Chapter 387, Consumer Protection, of the Suffolk County Code, any person who shall conduct a business licensed by this article without obtaining a license therefor or who shall continue to engage in such licensed business after having had a valid license suspended or revoked shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, shall be subject to a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment for not more than one year, or both. Each such violation shall be deemed a separate offense.

§ 563-117 Injunctive relief.

Upon application of the Director, the County Attorney or the District Attorney may commence an action in the name of the County to restrain, prevent and enjoin a violation of this article or any rule or regulation promulgated hereunder or any continuance of such violation.

§ 563-118 Review of administrative determinations.

The action of the Director in adjudging fines or suspending, revoking or refusing to issue or renew a license may be reviewed by a proceeding brought under and pursuant to Article 78 of the Civil Practice Law and Rules of the State of New York.