[HISTORY: Adopted by the Council of the City of Mount Vernon 6-27-1984 by L.L. No. 4-1984. Amendments noted where applicable.]
This chapter shall be known as "An Ordinance to Require the Licensing of Building Contractors Performing Work in the City of Mount Vernon."
It is hereby declared to be the policy of the City of Mount Vernon, in order to protect the safety and welfare of its inhabitants and for the protection and security of their property, that all home improvement and building contractors performing work in the City of Mount Vernon shall hereinafter be licensed. The provisions and prohibitions hereinafter contained and enacted are for the above-mentioned purpose.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- Any structure containing no more than four residence or dwelling units.
- The Commissioner of Buildings.
- Any person or salesman, other than a bona fide employee of the owner, who owns, operates, maintains, conducts, controls or transacts a home improvement business and who undertakes or offers to undertake or agrees to perform any home improvement or solicits any contract therefor, whether or not such person is licensed or subject to the licensing requirements of this chapter and whether or not such person is a prime contractor or subcontractor with respect to the owner.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT
- The construction, repair, replacement, remodeling, alteration, conversion, rehabilitation, renovation, modernization, improvement or addition to any land or building or that portion thereof which is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling place and shall include, but not be limited to, the construction, erection, replacement or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, terraces, patios, landscaping, fences, porches, garages, fallout shelters, basements and other improvements to structures or upon land which is adjacent to a dwelling house. "Home improvement" shall not include the construction of a new home building or work done by a contractor in compliance with a guaranty of completion of a new building project; or the sale of goods or materials by a seller who neither arranges to perform nor performs directly or indirectly any work or labor in connection with the installation of or application of the goods or materials; or residences owned by or controlled by the state or any municipal subdivision thereof; or the painting or decorating of a building, residence, home or apartment, when not incidental or related to "home improvement" work as herein defined. Without regard to the extent of affixation, "home improvement" shall also include the installation of central-heating or air-conditioning systems, central vacuum-cleaning systems, storm windows, awnings or fire or burglar alarms or communication systems.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT CONTRACT
- An agreement, whether oral or written or contained in one or more documents, between a contractor and an owner, or contractor and a tenant, regardless of the number of residence or dwelling units contained in the building in which the tenant resides, provided that said work is to be performed in, to or upon the residence or dwelling unit of such tenant for the performance of a home improvement and includes all labor, services and materials to be furnished and performed thereunder.
- HOME IMPROVEMENT ESTABLISHMENT
- Any shop, establishment, place or premises where the home improvement business is transacted or carried on.
- A person permitted to engage in the home improvement business under the provisions of this chapter.
- Any homeowner, cooperative or condominium unit owner, tenant or any other person who orders contracts for or purchases the home improvement services of a contractor or the person entitled to the performance of the work of a contractor pursuant to a home improvement contract.
- An individual, firm, company, salesman, partnership or corporation, trade group or association.
- Any individual who negotiates or offers to negotiate a home improvement contract with an owner or solicits or otherwise endeavors to procure in person a home improvement contract from an owner on behalf of a contractor, or for himself should the salesman be also the contractor, whether or not such person is licensed or subject to the licensing requirements of this chapter.
No person shall solicit, canvass, sell, perform or obtain a home improvement contract as a contractor or salesman from an owner without a license therefor.
A license issued pursuant to this chapter may not be construed to authorize the licensee to perform any particular type of work or engage in any kind of business which is reserved to qualified licensees under separate provisions of state or local law; nor shall any license or authority, other than as is issued or permitted pursuant to this chapter, authorize engaging in the home improvement business; neither shall the license be used as a representation as to the quality of the work performed by the contractor.
The maintenance of a bona fide establishment at a definite location within the state shall be a prerequisite for the issuance of a home improvement business license.
An applicant for a home improvement contractor's license must establish that he is the real owner and possesses title to or is entitled to the possession of the establishment and will conduct, operate, engage in and transact a home improvement business. He must furnish satisfactory evidence of a good moral character, financial responsibility and a minimum of two years' experience in the building, home repair or other related industry.
Every application for a license shall be accompanied by a bond, approved as to form by the Corporation Counsel and executed by a bonding or surety company authorized to do business in the State of New York, in the amount of $10,000, conditioned upon the assurance that during the term of such license the licensee will continue to comply with the provisions of this chapter to assure that, upon default in the performance of any contract, the advance payments made thereon, less reasonable value of services actually rendered to the date of such default or the reasonable costs of completion of the contract in the event of noncompletion thereof, will be refunded to the purchaser, owner or lessee with whom such contract was made. Such bond shall run to the City of Mount Vernon for the use and benefit of any person or persons intended to be protected thereby. Any claims under such bond shall be made to the Office of Consumer Protection. The filing of the required bond in the office of the City Clerk, after approval as to form by the Corporation Counsel, shall be deemed sufficient compliance with this subsection.
The applicant shall submit satisfactory evidence of workers' compensation insurance and general liability insurance in an amount not less than $500,000 listing the City of Mount Vernon as an additional insured.
The fee for a license to conduct a home improvement business shall be $100, and for each renewal thereof the fee shall be $100.
The fee for a saleman's license employed by a home improvement contractor shall be $50, and for each renewal thereof the fee shall be $50.
The fee for issuing a duplicate license or for one lost, destroyed or mutilated shall be $20.
Licenses shall be valid for one year from the issuance thereof unless suspended or revoked by the Commissioner.
No license shall be assignable or transferable.
A license issued hereunder shall at all times be posted in a conspicuous place in the place of business of the licensee.
Every licensee shall, within 10 days after a change of control in ownership or of management or of change of address or trade name, notify the Commissioner of each change.
A duplicate license may be issued for one lost or mutilated and shall bear the word "duplicate" stamped across its face.
Commissioner. In addition to the powers and duties elsewhere prescribed in this chapter, the Commissioner shall have power:
To appoint an adequate number of assistants, inspectors and other employees as may be necessary to carry out the provisions of this chapter and to prescribe their duties.
To examine the qualifications and fitness of applicants for licenses under this chapter.
To keep record of all licenses issued, suspended or revoked.
At any time to require reasonable information of an applicant or licensee and may require the production of books of accounts, financial statements, contracts or other records which relate to the home improvement activity, qualification or compliance with this chapter by the licensee; provided, however, that said information and production of records is required of him pursuant to its regular business and functions under this chapter.
An application for a license or renewal thereof shall be made to the Commissioner on a form prescribed by him.
A separate license shall be required for each place of business.
The application shall be filed only by the actual owner of a business and shall be in writing, signed and under oath, and it shall contain the office address of the business, the name and residence address of the owner or partner and, if a corporation, trade group or association, the names and resident address of the directors and principal officers.
The Commissioner may require the names and residence addresses of any employees of an applicant, in addition to any other information which he may deem advisable.
The Commissioner may make such rules and regulations not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter as may be necessary with respect to the form and content of applications for licenses, the reception thereof, the investigation and examination of applicants and their qualifications and the other matters incidental or appropriate to his powers and duties, as prescribed by this chapter, and for the proper administration and enforcement of the provisions of this chapter and to amend or repeal any such rules and obligations.
The Commissioner shall have the power to suspend or revoke a license or deny an application for the renewal of a license for any one or more of the following causes:
Fraud, misrepresentation, bribery in securing a license.
The making of any false statement as to a material matter in any application for a license.
The person or the management personnel of the contractor are untrustworthy and not of good character.
The business transactions of the contractor have been or are marked by a practice of failure to timely perform or complete its contracts or by the manipulation of assets or accounts or by fraud or bad faith or are marked by an unwholesome method of practice of solicitation of business from owners.
Failure to display the license as provided in this chapter.
Failure to comply with any demand or requirement lawfully made by the Commissioner.
When an agent or employee of a licensee has been guilty of an act or omission, fraud, misrepresentation and the licensee has approved or had knowledge thereof.
Violation of any provision of this chapter or any rule or regulation adopted hereunder or for performing or attempting to perform any act prohibited by this chapter.
The following acts are prohibited:
Abandonment or willful failure to perform, without justification, any home improvement contract or project engaged in or undertaken by a contractor; or willful deviation from or disregard of plans or specifications in any material respect without the consent of the owner.
Making any substantial misrepresentation in the solicitation or procurement of a home improvement contract or making any false promise of character likely to influence, persuade or induce.
Any fraud in the execution of or in the material alteration of any contract, mortgage, promissory note or other document incident to a home improvement transaction.
Willful failure to comply with any order, demand, rule, regulation or requirement made by the Commissioner pursuant to provisions of this chapter.
No contractor's license shall be required in the following instances:
An individual who performs labor or services for a contractor for wages or salary.
A plumber, electrician, architect, professional engineer or any other such person who is required by state or City law to attain standards of competency or experience as a prerequisite to engaging in such craft or profession and who is acting exclusively within the scope of the craft or profession for which he is currently licensed pursuant to such other law.
Any retail Clerk, clerical, administrative or other employee of a licensed contractor, as to a transaction on the premises of the contractor.
This chapter shall not apply to or affect the validity of a home improvement contract, otherwise within the purview of this chapter, which is made prior to the effective date of the respective provisions of this chapter governing such contracts.
Any home improvement where the aggregate contract price for all labor materials and other items is less than $200. This exemption does not apply where the work is only part of a larger or major operation, whether undertaken by the same or a different contractor, or in which a division of the operation is made in contracts of amounts less than $200 for the purpose of evasion of this provision or otherwise.
The Commissioner, if, upon reasonable cause, he should believe that any licensee or any other person has violated any of the provisions of this chapter or any other law relating to home improvement business, shall have the power to make such investigation as he shall deem necessary, and to the extent necessary for this purpose, he may examine such licensee or any other persons and shall have the power to compel the production of all relevant books, records, accounts, documents or other records.
The officers and inspectors of the Mount Vernon Building Department and the Office of Consumer Protection are authorized to issue and serve appearance tickets for any violation of this chapter.
No license shall be suspended or revoked nor fine imposed until after a hearing had before an officer or employee of the department designated for such purpose by the Commissioner upon notice to the licensee of at least 10 days. The notice shall be served either personally or by registered mail and shall state the date and place of hearing and set forth the ground or grounds constituting the charges against the licensee. The licensee or registrant shall be heard in his defense, either in person or by counsel, and may produce witnesses and testify in his behalf. A record of the hearing shall be taken and preserved. The hearing may be adjourned from time to time. The person conducting the hearing shall make a written report of his findings and a recommendation to the Commissioner for decision. The Commissioner shall review such findings and the recommendation and, after due deliberation, shall issue an order accepting, modifying or rejecting such recommendation and dismissing the charges or suspending or revoking the license. For the purpose of this chapter, the Commissioner or his designee may administer oaths, take testimony, subpoena witnesses and compel the production of books, papers, records and documents deemed pertinent to the subject of investigation.
The action of the Commissioner in 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.
Any person who shall own, conduct or operate a home improvement business without a license therefor or who shall violate any of the provisions of this chapter or, having had his license suspended or revoked, shall continue to engage in such business shall be guilty of a violation and, upon conviction, shall be punishable by imprisonment for not more than 15 days or by a fine of not more than $500, or both such fine and imprisonment, and each such violation shall be deemed a separate offense.
The Corporation Counsel may bring an action in the name of the City to restrain or prevent any violation of this chapter or any continuance of any such violation.
The official acts of the Commissioner and the department shall be prima facie evidence of the facts therein and shall be entitled to be received in evidence in all actions at law and other legal proceedings in any court or before any agency, board, body or officer.
If any part or provision of this chapter for the application thereof to any person or circumstances be ajudged invalid by any court of competent jurisdiction, such judgment shall be confined in its operation to the part, provision or application directly involved in the controversy in which such judgment shall have been rendered and shall not affect or impair the validity of the remainder of this chapter or the application thereof to other persons or circumstances, and the Council hereby declares that it would have enacted this chapter or the remainder thereof had the invalidity of such provision or application thereof been apparent.
This chapter shall take effect on August 15, 1984.