It is good to be a homeowner in New Jersey, as the state has a wide array of statutes designed to protect homeowners from unscrupulous or incompetent contractors. These laws require most contractors to be registered with the state, carry insurance and comply with a host of rules in dealing with consumers. A handyman has rules to comply with as well.
What Is a Handyman?
In New Jersey, a "home improvement" is any remodeling, altering, painting, repairing, renovating, restoring, moving, demolishing or modernizing any part of residential property, including work on kitchens, bedrooms, bathrooms, sidewalks, driveways, garages, landscaping, etc. Anyone who performs home improvement work for money in New Jersey is considered a contractor. Although the title implies a bit of informality, so long as a handyman is paid for his services, he is considered a contractor in New Jersey.
Technically, unless a handyman is regulated by the State of New Jersey as a professional (i.e., unless she is an architect, engineer, land surveyor, electrician, or master plumber) she does not need to be licensed in New Jersey to ply her craft. If she does perform those services, however, she must be licensed in New Jersey.
Although a handyman, who is not within the professional trades, is subject to no licensing requirements, he is nonetheless required to be registered with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs in the Department of Law of Public Safety. To be become registered, a handyman must complete an application, provide proof of insurance and disclose whether he has ever been convicted of a crime or engaged in misconduct, such as fraud.
There is no registration requirement, however, unless a handyman is paid for his work, so homeowners, for example, are free to work on their own homes without being registered.
Any handyman who performs home improvement work in New Jersey for pay and is not registered is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree. Anyone convicted of a fourth degree crime is subject to imprisonment for up to 18 months and a $10,000 fine.
Samuel Johnson is an experienced trial lawyer and writer with over 20 years of legal experience. Johnson has drafted thousands of legal documents, including briefs, and published court opinions, articles and client alerts. He also served on the Panel of Practitioner Contributors to the Ninth Edition of Black's Law Dictionary and is currently working on a book for the American Bar Association.