Volume 1 Number 38
September 20, 2004





If you need to finance your home repairs, and a mortgage or lien will be placed against your property, use this checklist prior to signing any contract!

Determine if your contractor is:
1. A Florida licensed contractor (Contact Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation 1-850-487-1395)
2. Licensed as a Home Improvement Finance Seller (Contact Office of Financial Regulation 1-800-342-2762)
(Note: Financial Institutions - banks and credit unions are exempt from licensure.)

Remember:  When financing your home improvements,
1. YOU are entitled to a copy of the contract at the time that you sign it.  CONTINUED
2. YOU must keep a copy of your contract to protect your legal rights.
3. YOU must never sign any contract in blank - write N/A on any blank line!
4. YOU are responsible for payments on any financial contract or home improvement contract containing a mortgage. Failure to make your payment may result in foreclosure of your property.

The completed contract SHOULD NOT have any blank spaces and MUST include:
1. Name of home improvement finance seller;
2. Signatures of both the owner and contractor;
3. Notice of the right to rescind the contract within 3 business days;
4. Approximate dates the work would begin and end;
5. Amount financed, down payment amount and any difference between those two; insurance specifying coverage and benefits, official fees, survey and permit charges;
6. Premiums paid for group credit life or other insurance should state which party is to procure the insurance.
7. Depending on the length and terms of the loan, finance charges can be as high as 22% APR. You may want to contact FEMA's disaster assistance program at 1-800621-3362 for lower interest rates.
8. NO provision for a power of attorney should be in this contract.

Once the project is complete:

1. Owner and contractor must sign a certificate stating all work has been completed. CAUTION: Do not sign this certificate unless all work has been performed!
2. Ask your contractor to furnish a release of liens against the property.
3. Keep a copy of the completion certificate and lien release to protect your rights.

Consumers needing assistance with hurricane related issues should call the Department of Financial Services' hurricane hotline at 1-800-22-STORM.