N.J. Gov. Steps in to Protect Homebuyers

May 11, 2005

Acting New Jersey Gov. Richard J. Codey has signed an executive order establishing a series of reforms to protect homebuyers from being victimized by unscrupulous builders.

“Buying a home is one of the most important life decisions people make,” Codey said. “This executive order affords homeowners new rights and protections and helps restore consumer confidence.”

The order is in direct response to a recent State Commission of Investigation (SCI) report that revealed examples of shoddy and deficient construction practices, lax regulatory oversight and poor remediation options for homebuyers.

The report and its recommendations were developed with assistance from the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA).

The order directs the DCA to develop a strict ethics code for all state, county and municipal building inspectors and construction code officials. The Department must also develop a Web site where homebuyers can access information on builders, including claims against them; industry standard guides; housing codes; inspection information and warranty rights.

In addition, the Department will publish and distribute to every new homeowner, within four months of the closing date, a booklet that explains their warranty rights and how they can protect themselves by filing timely claims. The DCA is to review any cases of homeowner dissatisfaction with the warranty process. The order also streamlines the arbitration process and strengthens the DCA’s oversight.

“DCA has worked closely with SCI on its recent report on home construction,” DCA Commissioner Susan Bass Levin said. “This executive order is an important step forward to protect New Jersey homebuyers.”

SCI Chairman W. Cary Edwards hailed the executive order as “a significant and progressive chapter in the annals of consumer protection in New Jersey.”

“With this action, Acting Governor Codey has administratively begun to reform this system, and we are gratified by the rapid and substantive response,” Edwards said. “We look forward to his support in enacting legislation to implement the balance of our recommendations.”

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