If there's one thing all Kentuckians can agree upon it is the rather crazy weather we've experienced the past few years. And to be sure, this severe weather, which has included hailstorms, windstorms and ice storms, has taken a toll on our homes and businesses.
Because of the millions of dollars in damages, we've seen an unfortunate rise in another, more malicious occurrence — an influx of under-qualified and often fraudulent roofing contactors seeking to take advantage of Kentuckians who are in an often desperate or, at the very least, stressful situation.
These predatory roofers have put a target on Kentucky because we don't have licensing procedures for roofing contractors, and that makes it easy for them to profit by exploiting Kentuckians.
Perhaps more alarming is the occurrence of criminal roofers who prey upon the elderly or disadvantaged, offering repairs for non-competitive prices in exchange for substandard workmanship. Sometimes unscrupulous roofing contractors will even offer their services for pricey down payments and then disappear, leaving the customer with an empty pocketbook and still in need of roofing repairs.
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Complaints about roofing contractors to the Attorney General's Office have tripled since 2011, and are No. 1 in complaints registered with the Better Business Bureau nationwide.
As the former president of the Kentucky Roofing Contractors Association, and operator of a second-generation roofing company in Kentucky, I have a vested interest in keeping the reputations of Kentucky roofers in high regard. I also want to protect the customers I have served for years, as they look to roofing contractors like me to provide an essential service.
It's discouraging to watch these criminals abuse the system and take advantage of hard-working Kentuckians while jeopardizing the integrity of my profession.
Part of the solution to this problem is educating Kentuckians about the dangers of unlicensed or unscrupulous roofers. However, perhaps the more important part of the solution is supporting policy changes that would protect consumers by improving Kentucky's licensing system. The Kentucky General Assembly has an opportunity this year to protect Kentucky consumers from misleading roofing contactors by passing House Bill 207.
HB 207, which has passed the House and is now in the Senate, would establish standards to ensure that only qualified roofing contractors are approved to do business with Kentuckians by requiring all persons or businesses providing roofing services to be licensed in the commonwealth.
The bill would also require minimum standards for roofer's insurance and background checks. And it would require all roofing contractors to display their license numbers on vehicles and in contracts. Further, it would mandate training and testing of standards of qualifications that would be administered and enforced through the Department of Housing, Buildings and Construction.
Other states that have experienced increased storm damage including Tennessee, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, Alabama and Georgia have adopted licensing programs for contractors and roofers. Kentucky should follow suit.
I urge the Senate to pass HB 207 as it is a significant step in the right direction toward protecting Kentuckians who are most vulnerable to swindlers and cheats.