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Recovery under Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court, in Shafer Electric & Construction v. Mantia, recently held that a contractor’s could still recover under a theory of quantum meruit (also known as unjust enrichment) despite the contractor’s failure to comply with the Pennsylvania Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (HICPA).  In relevant part, the HICPA requires that all contractors register with the Pennsylvania Office of the Attorney General (OAG) as well as enter into written contracts for the performance of improvements.  Both of these requirements were designed to protect purchasers of home improvement services from contractors engaging in deceitful practices.  A violation of one of HICPA’s requirements results in the contract being deemed invalid and unenforceable against the homeowner.

In Shafer, the contractor’s written contract with the homeowner was deemed invalid for its failure to register with the OAG.  In holding that the contractor could still recover, the Court reasoned that contractors should still be entitled to recover the reasonable value of the services provided even if they violated the HICPA, otherwise the homeowner would receive a complete windfall.