The problem: the HRRA as originally drafted failed to specify a clear remedy for its violation.
Ultimately, the consensus was that a private citizen's remedy for a violation of the HRRA should be found in the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
This article briefly discusses the original HRRA, takes a quick look at the confusing cases it generated, and describes the amendment that, drafters hope, will fix the problem.
The Home Repair and Remodeling Act1 ("HRRA") is a consumer-protection statute passed because "[t]he General Assembly recognizes that improved communications and accurate representations between persons engaged in the business of making home repairs or remodeling and their consumers will increase consumer confidence, reduce the likelihood of disputes, and promote fair and honest practices in that business in this State." (2) It applies to a broad range of contractors performing work on singlefamily homes or multiple-family dwellings containing six or fewer units.
The HRRA requires contractors to meet a number of requirements and make various disclosures to home repair and remodeling consumers.
Prior to the recent amendment, the HRRA declared it "unlawful for any person engaged in the business of home repairs and remodeling to remodel or make repairs ...
An enforcement provision in the HRRA empowers the attorney general to enforce it through penalties provided for in the Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act.
Starting in 2007, Illinois appellate court districts began issuing diverging decisions about how the HRRA should be applied.
In Smith v Bogard, the fourth district determined that a contractor who fails to provide a written contract and consumer pamphlet as required under the HRRA is "precluded from recovering any amounts he claims due for work performed," whether for breach of contract, unjust enrichment, or quantum meruit.
Likewise, in Roberts v Adkins, the court determined that "when a contract does not comply with the Act, it is invalid and cannot form the basis of a breach of contract action or an action to foreclose a mechanic's lien." (14) In this line of cases, the courts look to the term "unlawful," which, as is discussed above, appears in section 30 of the HRRA to describe conduct by a contractor that violates the HRRA.
In Behl v Gingerich, the fourth disrict backpedaled from Smith and held hat "substantial, rather than strict, compliance" with the hrrA was sufficient permit a contractor to recover for services rendered.