Bill Text: NJ S3191 | 2018-2019 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Concerns reimbursements to Superstorm Sandy-impacted homeowners subjected to contractor fraud.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Democrat 3-1)

Status: (Introduced) 2018-11-26 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee [S3191 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2018-S3191-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 3191

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED NOVEMBER 26, 2018

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

Senator  VIN GOPAL

District 11 (Monmouth)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Concerns reimbursements to Superstorm Sandy-impacted homeowners subjected to contractor fraud.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

 


An Act concerning contractor fraud following Superstorm Sandy, and supplementing Title 52 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    a.   The commissioner shall permit the distribution of fraud-response funding to an applicant if the applicant demonstrates to the department that the applicant has been the subject of fraud or theft by deception, committed by a RREM or LMI program contractor, in connection with a RREM or LMI program contract to complete work on the applicant's house.  The department shall distribute fraud-response funding regardless of whether an applicant presents a charging document, so long as the applicant is able to present alternative documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the fraud or theft by deception occurred. 

     b.    The commissioner shall consult the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety to develop appropriate standards for determining whether fraud or theft by deception has occurred, and what documents are relevant in that determination. 

     c.    An applicant shall not be entitled to a fraud-response funding award if any portion of the award would amount to a duplicative benefit or would otherwise violate the "Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act," (42 U.S.C. s.5155), or another provision of federal law. 

     d.    As used in this section:

     "Applicant" means a RREM or LMI program beneficiary who applies for fraud-response funding.

     "Charging document" means a document produced by the Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law and Public Safety, indicating that the applicant's contractor has been charged with a crime involving fraud or theft by deception. 

     "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Community Affairs.

     "Department" means the Department of Community Affairs.

     "Fraud-response funding" means funding allocated by the federal government, which may be allocated to reimburse an applicant, who has been defrauded by a RREM or LMI program contractor.

     "RREM or LMI program" means the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation Program or the Low-to-Moderate Income Homeowners Rebuilding Program, established by the department for the purpose of distributing federal funding allocated towards recovery from Superstorm Sandy. 

 

     2.    This act shall take effect immediately, but shall remain inoperative until the first day of the second month next following enactment.

STATEMENT

 

     This bill concerns reimbursement payments to Superstorm Sandy-impacted homeowners subjected to contractor fraud.  Far too many families and individuals whose homes were damaged by Superstorm Sandy were also subjected to a second injury as the result of fraud committed by their contractors.  The Department of Community Affairs ("DCA") has made funding available, through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, to reimburse these households.  In order to qualify for funding, the bill requires an applicant to present a document produced by the Division of Consumer Affairs, indicating that the applicant's contractor has been charged with a crime involving fraud or theft by deception.  This document has proven burdensome to obtain for many who have been defrauded by their contractors. 

     This bill establishes an alternative method for applicants to substantiate contractor fraud and theft by deception.  The bill requires DCA to distribute fraud-response funding regardless of whether an applicant presents a charging document, so long as the applicant is able to present alternative documentation sufficient to demonstrate that the fraud or theft by deception has occurred.  This policy only concerns contract work in relation to the Reconstruction, Rehabilitation, Elevation, and Mitigation Program or the Low-to-Moderate Income Homeowners Rebuilding Program, as established by DCA to distribute federal funding allocated towards recovery from Superstorm Sandy. The bill directs DCA to consult the Division of Consumer Affairs to develop appropriate standards for determining whether fraud or theft by deception has occurred, and what documents are relevant in that determination.

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