All too often, well-meaning Middle Tennessee homeowners find themselves in litigation with a residential roofing service provider. Disputes may arise due to contractual ambiguities related to the specific items included in the contract, the application of insurance proceeds and the homeowner’s responsibility for “extras.” Because a residential roofing service provider’s conduct and contracts may obviate their claims and defenses, consumers of residential roofing services should avail themselves of all the statutory protections at their disposal. Here are a few.
Many residential roofing service providers advertise or otherwise represent that they will deal directly with a homeowner’s insurance company on behalf of the homeowner. To lawfully undertake virtually any action in furtherance of an insurance claim, related to residential roofing repair, the service provider must be licensed as a public adjuster. TCA § 62-6-605. A single conversation between a homeowner’s insurance company and a residential roofing service provider, unlicensed as a public adjuster, may provide a basis for a private cause of action in favor of the homeowner. TCA § 62-6-606; See also: TCA § 47-18-104(b)(48). When a residential roofing service provider engages in the unlawful provision of public adjuster services, homeowners may recover damages, costs and attorney’s fees. TCA § 47-18-109(a)(3) & (e). Also, a residential roofing service provider’s contractual promise to communicate with an insurance company, when not properly licensed to provide public adjuster services, is likely unlawful and could affect the validity of the contract as a whole.
Prior to entering into a contract for residential roofing services, a provider is required to actually deliver specific written notices to a homeowner. TCA § 62-6- 603. A homeowner is entitled to know the number of any contractor or public adjuster license held by the provider in this state or any other state. Id at § (1)(c). A residential roofing service provider’s history in another state may inform a homeowner’s decision to enter into a contract with a provider. Deliberate concealment of the history may undermine the basis of the bargain and underlie a statutory cause of action. TCA § 62-6-606; See also: TCA § 47-18-104(b)(48).
Before agreeing to engage in residential roofing services, a provider is statutorily obligated to actually deliver a written, itemized and detailed description of all repairs claimed to be included in the contract including the precise location of each item of repair. TCA § 62-6-603(2). Statements like “repair storm damage” or “remove and replace roofing system” can be ambiguous and, with unfortunate regularity, lead to disputes between the provider and the homeowner. Confusion regarding the specific materials and services included in the contract, can lead to damages recoverable by the homeowner. TCA § 62-6-606. Residential roofing service providers who wrongfully demand more money may establish a measure of damage the homeowners are entitled to recover in triplicate, plus attorney’s fees and costs. Id; See also: TCA § 47-18- 109(a)(3) & (e)
While there exist other specific notices residential roofing service providers are required to actually deliver, in writing, to homeowners prior to contract formation, it is important to note that the installation of insulation may constitute residential roofing services as defined by statute. TCA § 62-6-603; See also: 62-6-601(7). Accordingly, all contracts including the installation of residential attic insulation may trigger the specific notice and other requirements imposed upon residential roofing service providers by TCA § 62-6- 601 et seq.
In addition to the protections afforded to homeowners by Title 62, certain statutory obligations imposed upon real property and home improvement service providers apply to residential roofing service providers. TCA § 47-18-103(8-9); See also: TCA § 47-18-104(b)(47) and TCA § 66-11-203. Among other things, because a considerable portion of the residential roofing services in Middle Tennessee are performed by subcontractors hailing from outside the area, the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act’s prohibition against misrepresentations as to the geographical origins of services can be important when dealing with residential roofing service providers. TCA § 47-18-104(b)(4).
In the context of incompetence or misconduct, such as a statutory violation, by a residential roofing or improvement services provider, courts are authorized to revoke all trade and contracting licenses of the offender. TCA § 62-6-118. Because civil litigation can effectuate public policy with laser like precision, homeowners facing dishonesty, incompetence or other misconduct from a residential services provider should exercise their ability to pre-empt the provider’s opportunity to harm others. Tennessee’s statutory framework for civil recourse against unscrupulous service providers gives homeowners the means to be made whole and protect their neighbors.
Service providers engaging in tactics unfair to the consumer and in violation of statute face an uphill legal battle when seeking to recover contractual damages in Tennessee. Homeowners, on the other hand, are able to take advantage of many statutory safeguards designed to maintain fairness in the provision of residential improvement and roofing services. Sam Dreiling