Flanked by roofing contractors who are hopeful that scammers who do the same kind of work and show up after storms like Hurricane Harvey can be put out of business, some Texas House members told reporters at the state capitol in Austin that a straightforward proposal could go a long way toward making sure Texans don’t get ripped off in those situations.
During a news conference, Rep. Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, said that it’s a “passion of mine” to make sure consumers are protected while honest contractors have a shot at getting the business rather than those who do shoddy work and can’t be found after it is discovered they’ve made repairs that do not meet basic standards.
It's a bipartisan effort; the legislation that Capriglione’s filing in the House mirrors bills filed by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo.
Rep. Capriglione talked about the common practice of roofing scammers driving to a town after a storm and offering services to homeowners who have sustained significant damage on their property. “That would be great if all of them had good intentions,” Rep. Capriglione said.
“The state has to provide at least a basic oversight,” he said. “There is nothing more important than that it (the repair work) be safe and sound from the roof down to the floor.”
The bills would require registration – not licensing – for those who do that kind of repair work so that consumers could at least check a website to see if the person is who they say they are.
There would be a small fee, Capriglione said, and the person would have to show that they have the authority to exist as a business in this state. They’d also have to provide basic contact information.
“This is a basic consumer protection law,” Capriglione said.
“Anybody can become a roofer tomorrow,” said Brad Jones, president of the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas. “This just seems like basic legislation that will help those consumers be able to check if that person is registered.”
Jones added that his group is realistic about what should be possible in the legislative process and said the association is not interested in creating barriers to entry for new small business owners. However, Jones said there does need to be a layer of protection against those who seek to do substandard work and be paid in cash under the table. “There’s nobody that wins in this situation,” Jones said.
“The appetite here is not for licensing or any more regulation. We understand that,” Jones said. “Texas is a great state and we want to invite people to come here and do business,” he said. “This is the most commonsense bill that we can get across to give the consumer somewhere to go.”