2006 Regular Session
To: Judiciary B
By: Representative Snowden
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 97-23-103, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE CONTRACTORS, RESIDENTIAL BUILDERS AND RESIDENTIAL REMODELERS TO INFORM CUSTOMERS OF THE HOME REPAIR FRAUD LAW; TO PROVIDE CIVIL PENALTIES FOR FAILURE TO DO SO; TO AMEND SECTION 85-7-131, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT A LIEN IS UNENFORCEABLE FOR FAILURE TO NOTIFY CUSTOMERS OF THE HOME REPAIR FRAUD LAW; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 97-23-103, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
97-23-103. (1) As used in this section, unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) "Home repair" means the fixing, replacing, altering, converting, modernizing, improving of or the making of an addition to any real property primarily designed or used as a residence.
(i) Home repair shall include the construction, installation, replacement or improvement of driveways, swimming pools, porches, kitchens, chimneys, chimney liners, garages, fences, fallout shelters, central air conditioning, central heating, boilers, furnaces, hot water heaters, electrical wiring, sewers, plumbing fixtures, storm doors, storm windows, awnings and other improvements to structures within the residence or upon the land adjacent thereto.
(ii) Home repair shall not include the sale, installation, cleaning or repair of carpets; the sale of goods or materials by a merchant who does not directly or through a subsidiary perform any work or labor in connection with the installation or application of the goods or materials; the repair, installation, replacement or connection of any home appliance, including, but not limited to, disposals, refrigerators, ranges, garage door openers, television antennas, washing machines, telephones or other home appliances when the person replacing, installing, repairing or connecting such home appliance is an employee or agent of the merchant that sold the home appliance; or landscaping.
(b) "Person" means any individual, partnership, corporation, business, trust or other legal entity.
(c) "Residence" means a single or multiple family dwelling, including, but not limited to, a single family home, apartment building, condominium, duplex, townhouse or mobile home which is used or intended to be used by its occupants as their dwelling place.
(2) A person commits the offense of home repair fraud when he knowingly:
(a) Enters into an agreement or contract, written or oral, with a person for home repair, and he knowingly:
(i) Misrepresents a material fact relating to the terms of the contract or agreement or the preexisting or existing condition of any portion of the property involved, or creates or confirms another's impression which is false and which he does not believe to be true, or promises performance which he does not intend to perform or knows will not be performed;
(ii) Uses or employs any deception, false pretense or false promises in order to induce, encourage or solicit such person to enter into any contract or agreement;
(iii) Misrepresents or conceals either his real name, the name of his business or his business address; or
(iv) Uses deception, coercion or force to obtain the victim's consent to modification of the terms of the original contract or agreement;
(b) Damages the property of a person with the intent to enter into an agreement or contract for home repair; or
(c) Misrepresents himself or another to be an employee or agent of any unit of the federal, state or municipal government or any other governmental unit, or an employee or agent of any public utility, with the intent to cause a person to enter into, with himself or another, any contract or agreement for home repair.
(3) Intent and knowledge shall be determined by an evaluation of all circumstances surrounding a transaction and the determination shall not be limited to the time of contract or agreement.
(4) Substantial performance shall not include work performed in a manner of little or no value or work that fails to comply with the appropriate municipal, county, state or federal regulations or codes.
(5) Violation of this section shall be punished as follows:
(a) A first conviction under this section shall be a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine not to exceed One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or imprisonment in the county jail not to exceed six (6) months, or both.
(b) A second or subsequent conviction under this section shall be punished as follows:
(i) By imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not to exceed two (2) years when the amount of the fraud is more than One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) but less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00).
(ii) By imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not to exceed five (5) years when the amount of the fraud is Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) or more, but less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00).
(iii) By imprisonment in the custody of the Department of Corrections not to exceed ten (10) years when the amount of the fraud is Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) or more.
(iv) As a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six (6) months when the amount of the fraud is One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) or less.
(6) In addition to any other sentence it may impose, the court shall order that the defendant shall make restitution to the victim, either within a specified period of time or in specified installments. The order shall not be enforceable during the period of imprisonment unless the court expressly finds that the defendant has assets to pay the amounts ordered at the time of sentencing. Intentional refusal to obey the restitution order or a failure by a defendant to make a good faith effort to make such restitution may be considered a violation of the defendant's probation and may be cause for revocation of his probation or suspension of sentence.
(7) All contractors, residential builders and residential remodelers licensed by the State Board of Contractors engaged in a project in which the total cost exceeds Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00) shall provide the customer a written statement advising such customer of the provisions of this section. Failure to provide the written statement shall result in a civil fine as follows:
(a) Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) for a first offense;
(b) One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00) for a second offense; and
(c) Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) for a third or subsequent offense.
SECTION 2. Section 85-7-131, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
85-7-131. Every house, building, water well or structure of any kind, and any fixed machinery, gearing or other fixture that may or may not be used or connected therewith, railroad embankment, erected, constructed, altered or repaired, and every subdivision of property or subdivided property which required services, designs or construction in designing or laying out of streets or subdividing or construction of streets, sewerage, water or other utilities to be furnished by the said subdivision or by the various owners or holders or creators of said subdivision or subdivided property or individual lot or lots in connection therewith, whether inside of a municipality or outside thereof, shall be liable for the debt contracted and owing, for labor done or materials furnished, or architectural engineers' and surveyors' or contractors' service rendered about the erection, construction, alteration or repairs thereof; and debt for such services or construction shall be a lien thereon. The architects, engineers, surveyors, laborers, and materialmen and/or contractors who rendered services and constructed the improvements shall have a lien therefor. Further, as to oil and gas wells, the operator thereof shall have such a lien upon the interest of each nonoperator owner of an interest in the mineral leasehold estate for such nonoperator's proportionate part of such labor, material and services rendered by the operator or for the operator's account in behalf of each nonoperator in the drilling, completion, recompletion, reworking or other operations of such oil and gas well. If such house, building, structure, or fixture be in a city, town or village, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire lot of land on which it stands and the entire curtilage thereto belonging; or, if not in a city, town or village, the lien shall extend to and cover one (1) acre of land on which the same may stand, if there be so much, to be selected by the holder of the lien. If the structure be a water well, the lien shall extend only to all pumps, pipes, equipment therein and all water well appurtenances. If the structure be an oil or gas well, the lien shall extend to the nonoperator's interest in the mineral estate and the fixtures and equipment in the producing unit assigned such well by the state oil and gas board. If the structure be a railroad or railroad embankment, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire roadbed and right-of-way, depots and other buildings used or connected therewith. If the services of the architect, surveyor, engineer, laborers, materialmen or of the contractors shall be upon the whole subdivision, the lien shall extend to and cover the entire subdivision; but if a part only of the land is subdivided and laborers', materialmen's, architects', surveyors' or engineers' services are required and contractors are employed, then the lien shall extend to only that portion of said property upon which the services were required or upon which or in connection with which the work was done or the materials were furnished. Such lien shall take effect as to purchasers or encumbrancers for a valuable consideration without notice thereof, only from the time of commencing suit to enforce the lien, or from the time of filing the contract under which the lien arose, or notice thereof, in the office of the clerk of the chancery court, as hereinafter stated; delivery of material to the job is prima facie evidence of its use therein, and use of water from a water well is prima facie evidence of acceptability of well. In the case of oil and gas wells, such lien shall take effect as to purchasers or encumbrancers for a valuable consideration without notice thereof, only from the time of filing notice of such lien as provided by Section 85-7-133.
A contractor, residential builder or residential remodeler who is in violation of Section 97-23-103(7) shall not be able to enforce a lien under this section until he complies with the provisions of Section 97-23-103(7).
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2006.