Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act

Shafer Electric & Construction v. Mantia, 2013 PA Super  111; 67 A. 3d 8

This matter addressed the issue of whether a contractor who had failed to comply with the registration requirements of Pennsylvania’s Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (“HICPA”) (73 P.S. § 517.1 et seq.) was precluded from recovering damages in quantum meruit. Shafer Electric & Construction, Inc. (“Contractor”), a licensed contractor with a principal place of business in New Cumberland, West Virginia, entered into a contract with Raymond and Donna Mantia (“Owners”) for the construction of an addition to the garage of the Owners’ residence (“Property”), situated in Avella, Washington County, Pennsylvania.  Following the completion of the work, the Owners failed to pay the Contractor, who subsequently filed a mechanics’ lien claim in the amount of $37,874.26 against the Property. In response, the Owners filed Preliminary Objections asserting that the contract was unenforceable due to the Contractor’s failure to register in Pennsylvania as required by HIPCA.  The trial court sustained the Preliminary Objections and dismissed the lien with prejudice concluding that, as Section 517.7(a) of the Act (73 P.S. § 517.7(a)) requires all enforceable home improvement contracts to include the state registration number of the contractor, and since the Contractor did not have such a registration number, the contract was void and unenforceable.

On appeal, our Superior Court reversed.  In issuing its ruling, the court referred to its recent decision in Durst v. Milroy General Contracting, 2012 PA Super 179; 52 A.3d 357, wherein it held that HIPCA does not preclude recovery in quantum meruit on oral contracts.  In this instance, there was no question that the Contractor had completed the work, nor that the parties did not have an enforceable contract under HIPCA due to the Contractor’s failure to register in Pennsylvania.  As such, since HIPCA does not preclude recovery in quantum meruit, and principles of equity require that the Contractor receive fair compensation for the benefit that its services have conferred on the Owners, the Contractor was entitled to proceed against the Owners in quantum meruit.
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