Questions Answered On the Air:
A contractor I hired is refusing to tell me when he will return to finish my porch. He hasn't been here for weeks and the completion date was September 1. What can I do?
I hope you have a contract and the completion date is on it! Our office runs a home improvement arbitration program. The three key aspects to qualify are:
- A written contract for the job.
- The contractor must be registered at the time of the contract. If you're not sure, call our office and we'll help you verify that.
- The work contracted for is on a 1-to-4 family, owner-occupied, primary residence, which certainly sounds like the case for you.
If you don't meet these qualifications, you may have to pursue this in court. But you certainly should register a complaint with the Better Business Bureau if the contractor is a member and with the Board of Building Regulations & Standards, which registers home improvement contractors.
I'm a student at Boston College and our landlord has entered the apartment several times since we moved in. Can he do this?
He can enter your apartment, but there's a right and wrong way to do that. He should be reasonable and pre-arrange a mutually convenient time to visit or inspect the unit. If he doesn't, you can file for a temporary restraining order in district court. There are also certain reasons he can access your unit…again, usually after pre-arranging a time.
- to make repairs;
- to show the unit to a prospective tenant or buyer;
- if he has a court order;
- to inspect the unit in the last 30 days of tenancy to verify whether there's been damage over the course of the leasing period.
My husband and I are going through a divorce and I am concerned about health insurance coverage for my daughter and I. We have been getting coverage through his employer. Isn't there a law that allows us to continue coverage?
This is important. You need to find-out if his employer self-funds health benefits or pays premium to an insurer for employee coverage. If the employer pays premium in return for benefits, our laws provide for continued benefits as long as the former spouse is employed there and until the re-marriage of either spouse.
Two wildcards here! Language addressing benefits in your divorce settlement could override your rights under the law.
Self-funded or self-insured employer coverage is not subject to this law and may not be included in the employee benefits
Questions Not Answered On the Air:
When I went to a department store the other day, I wanted to pay by check. They wanted another source of identification, other than my license. Is this legal? - Jerry, Braintree
For check purposes, a merchant can ask to see a credit card but may not write down the credit card number. Merchants may only record your name, address, and driver's license or state ID card, and telephone number.
I rented a car from Enterprise and I was informed that when I returned the vehicle I would get by deposit back. Now, they are refusing to give my deposit back. - Margaret, Dorchester
If you were told that you would get your deposit back, you should be entitled to that money. Make sure to re-read your agreement. Perhaps there is language in your contract, that can help you with your issue. If you still believe that you are entitled to your deposit back, you may want to try to speak with a manager.
If you are still unable to resolve a complaint with a merchant informally, then you may decide to take legal action. If your problem involves an unfair or deceptive practice, which is a violation of the Massachusetts Consumer Protection Act, the law requires you to send the merchant a letter 30 days before filing a claim in court. ( M.G.L. c. 93A). The letter must outline your complaint, the harm you suffered, and how you want the problem resolved. This is called a 30 Day Demand Letter.
The merchant must make a good faith response within 30 days, or it could subject him/her to triple damages and attorney's fees. The 30 Day Demand Letter serves to encourage the merchant to negotiate and settle the claims out of court. It also establishes the amount of monetary damages you can recover if the charges are proven in court. More information on the 30 Day Demand Letter on our website.
I owed a credit card company $900. They have sent the amount to collections, and I now owe the debt collector $3000. Is the debt collector, able to charge more than the amount that I owe?
Typically, debt collectors charge more than the original debt that you owe. This is probably due to fees on both the credit card company's behalf and the debt collector's behalf. You may wish to contact the Division of Banks for further information with the issue, since they oversee debt collection agencies. The Division of Banks may be contacted at 617-956-1500.