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HIC Arbitration Program

After the ink is dry on your home improvement contract and the job is underway, sometimes things don’t go as planned. Thankfully, the Home Improvement Contractor (HIC) law Arbitration program allows homeowners and registered contractors the opportunity to seek a resolution should a dispute arise.

In part two of our “HIC-Easy as 1-2-3” blog series we will break down the Arbitration program from both perspectives, the homeowner’s and the contractor’s.

What is the Arbitration program?

When homeowners and registered contractors have a dispute, the Arbitration program through our Office might be a way to resolve it. In arbitration, the homeowner and the contractor present evidence and testimony to an impartial arbitrator who presides and issues a legally binding decision.

Who is eligible to apply for the Arbitration program?

Homeowners that have entered into a home improvement contract for work on their in 1-4 unit primary residence may be eligible for the Arbitration program. Keep in mind, the contractor must have been registered with our Office on the date the contract was signed. Registered contractors or subcontractors consent to arbitration when signing a contract with a homeowner.

Registered contractors with an executed contract containing an arbitration clause may also be eligible for the Arbitration program. The contract must be for home improvement being done in a 1-4 residential unit that is also the homeowner’s primary dwelling.

How do I apply for Arbitration?

First, you must determine if the Arbitration program is right for you based on eligibility and whether you have sufficient evidence to support your case. Arbitration program applications must be filed within two years of the contract date. Completed applications and supporting documentation must be submitted to our Office via mail. You may find additional information and the application process on our website. You should always consult an attorney to determine your best course of action.

What happens during Arbitration?

After our office receives an application that is eligible and accepted for arbitration, an arbitrator is appointed. As you can imagine, each Arbitration case is unique. During arbitration any fees are collected, a preliminary telephone conference is scheduled and held, and a hearing is scheduled where evidence is presented to the arbitrator. The arbitrator issues a decision in writing which is then mailed to both parties. This whole process is often completed within 3 to 6 months.

Home improvements can be stressful. We hope that by helping you improve and expand your knowledge of the HIC law and its associated programs will ease your mind. Stay tuned for part three of our “HIC-Easy as 1-2-3” blog series next week!


 

The Baker-Polito Administration’s Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation along with its five agencies work together to achieve two goals: to protect and empower consumers through advocacy and education, and to ensure a fair playing field for Massachusetts businesses. The Office also oversees the state’s vehicular and customized wheelchair Lemon Laws and Arbitration Programs, Data Breach reporting, Home Improvement Contractor Programs and the MA Do Not Call Registry. If you have additional questions, contact the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation by calling our Consumer Hotline at (617) 973-8787, or toll-free in MA at (888) 283-3757, Monday through Friday, from 9 am-4:30 pm. Follow the Office on Facebook and Twitter, @Mass_Consumer.

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