HOUSE BILL 1752
State of Washington
2019 Regular Session
ByRepresentatives Orwall, Sells, and Kilduff; by request of Department of Labor & Industries
Read first time 01/30/19.Referred to Committee on Labor & Workplace Standards.
AN ACT Relating to construction contractors but only with respect to providing financial recourse to harmed consumers not to include a warranty and creating a work group; and amending RCW 18.27.040
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON:
and 2007 c 436 s 4 are each amended to read as follows:
(1) Each applicant shall file with the department a surety bond issued by a surety insurer who meets the requirements of chapter 48.28
RCW in the sum of twelve thousand dollars if the applicant is a general contractor and six thousand dollars if the applicant is a specialty contractor. If no valid bond is already on file with the department at the time the application is filed, a bond must accompany the registration application. The bond shall have the state of Washington named as obligee with good and sufficient surety in a form to be approved by the department. The bond shall be continuous and may be canceled by the surety upon the surety giving written notice to the director. A cancellation or revocation of the bond or withdrawal of the surety from the bond automatically suspends the registration issued to the contractor until a new bond or reinstatement notice has been filed and approved as provided in this section. The bond shall be conditioned that the applicant will pay all persons performing labor, including employee benefits, for the contractor, will pay all taxes and contributions due to the state of Washington, and will pay all persons furnishing material or renting or supplying equipment to the contractor and will pay all amounts that may be adjudged against the contractor by reason of breach of contract including improper work in the conduct of the contracting business. A change in the name of a business or a change in the type of business entity shall not impair a bond for the purposes of this section so long as one of the original applicants for such bond maintains partial ownership in the business covered by the bond.
(2) At the time of initial registration or renewal, the contractor shall provide a bond or other security deposit as required by this chapter and comply with all of the other provisions of this chapter before the department shall issue or renew the contractor's certificate of registration. Any contractor registered as of July 1, 2001, who maintains that registration in accordance with this chapter is in compliance with this chapter until the next renewal of the contractor's certificate of registration.
(3) Any person, firm, or corporation having a claim against the contractor for any of the items referred to in this section may bring suit against the contractor and the bond or deposit in the superior court of the county in which the work was done or of any county in which jurisdiction of the contractor may be had. The surety issuing the bond shall be named as a party to any suit upon the bond. Action upon the bond or deposit brought by a residential homeowner for breach of contract by a party to the construction contract shall be commenced by filing the summons and complaint with the clerk of the appropriate superior court within two years from the date the claimed contract work was substantially completed or abandoned, whichever occurred first. Action upon the bond or deposit brought by any other authorized party shall be commenced by filing the summons and complaint with the clerk of the appropriate superior court within one year from the date the claimed labor was performed and benefits accrued, taxes and contributions owing the state of Washington became due, materials and equipment were furnished, or the claimed contract work was substantially completed or abandoned, whichever occurred first. Service of process in an action filed under this chapter against the contractor and the contractor's bond or the deposit shall be exclusively by service upon the department. Three copies of the summons and complaint and a fee adopted by rule of not less than fifty dollars to cover the costs shall be served by registered or certified mail, or other delivery service requiring notice of receipt, upon the department at the time suit is started and the department shall maintain a record, available for public inspection, of all suits so commenced. Service is not complete until the department receives the fee and three copies of the summons and complaint. The service shall constitute service and confer personal jurisdiction on the contractor and the surety for suit on claimant's claim against the contractor and the bond or deposit and the department shall transmit the summons and complaint or a copy thereof to the contractor at the address listed in the contractor's application and to the surety within two days after it shall have been received.
(4) The surety upon the bond shall not be liable in an aggregate amount in excess of the amount named in the bond nor for any monetary penalty assessed pursuant to this chapter for an infraction. The liability of the surety shall not cumulate where the bond has been renewed, continued, reinstated, reissued or otherwise extended. The surety upon the bond may, upon notice to the department and the parties, tender to the clerk of the court having jurisdiction of the action an amount equal to the claims thereunder or the amount of the bond less the amount of judgments, if any, previously satisfied therefrom and to the extent of such tender the surety upon the bond shall be exonerated but if the actions commenced and pending and provided to the department as required in subsection (3) of this section, at any one time exceed the amount of the bond then unimpaired, claims shall be satisfied from the bond in the following order:
(a) Employee labor and claims of laborers, including employee benefits;
(b) Claims for breach of contract by a party to the construction contract;
(c) Registered or licensed subcontractors, material, and equipment;
(d) Taxes and contributions due the state of Washington;
(e) Any court costs, interest, and attorneys' fees plaintiff may be entitled to recover. The surety is not liable for any amount in excess of the penal limit of its bond.
A payment made by the surety in good faith exonerates the bond to the extent of any payment made by the surety.
(5) The total amount paid from a bond or deposit required of a general contractor by this section to claimants other than residential homeowners must not exceed one-half of the bond amount. The total amount paid from a bond or deposit required of a specialty contractor by this section to claimants other than residential homeowners must not exceed one-half of the bond amount or four thousand dollars, whichever is greater.
(6) The prevailing party in an action filed under this section against the contractor and contractor's bond or deposit, for breach of contract by a party to the construction contract involving a residential homeowner, is entitled to costs, interest, and reasonable attorneys' fees. The surety upon the bond or deposit is not liable in an aggregate amount in excess of the amount named in the bond or deposit nor for any monetary penalty assessed pursuant to this chapter for an infraction.
(7) If a final judgment impairs the liability of the surety upon the bond or deposit so furnished that there is not in effect a bond or deposit in the full amount prescribed in this section, the registration of the contractor is automatically suspended until the bond or deposit liability in the required amount unimpaired by unsatisfied judgment claims is furnished.
(8) In lieu of the surety bond required by this section the contractor may file with the department an assigned savings account, upon forms provided by the department.
(9) Any person having filed and served a summons and complaint as required by this section having an unsatisfied final judgment against the registrant for any items referred to in this section may execute upon the security held by the department by serving a certified copy of the unsatisfied final judgment by registered or certified mail upon the department within one year of the date of entry of such judgment. Upon the receipt of service of such certified copy the department shall pay or order paid from the deposit, through the registry of the superior court which rendered judgment, towards the amount of the unsatisfied judgment. The priority of payment by the department shall be the order of receipt by the department, but the department shall have no liability for payment in excess of the amount of the deposit.
(10) Within ten days after resolution of the case, a certified copy of the final judgment and order, or any settlement documents where a case is not disposed of by a court trial, a certified copy of the dispositive settlement documents must be provided to the department by the prevailing party. Failure to provide a copy of the final judgment and order or the dispositive settlement documents to the department within ten days of entry of such an order constitutes a violation of this chapter and a penalty adopted by rule of not less than two hundred fifty dollars may be assessed against the prevailing party.
(11) The director may require an applicant applying to renew or reinstate a registration or applying for a new registration to file a bond of up to three times the normally required amount, if the director determines that an applicant, or a previous registration of a corporate officer, owner, or partner of a current applicant, has had in the past five years ((a total of three))one final judgment((s)) in actions under this chapter involving a residential single-family dwelling ((on two or more different structures)).
(12) The director may adopt rules necessary for the proper administration of the security.
(13)(a) The department must convene a work group no later than August 1, 2019, to consider additional safeguards for consumers who engage contractors. The department must provide staff support for the work group and include in the work group: Department staff; large and small contractors that primarily contract with residential homeowners, those that build new and rehabilitate residences, and other interested contractors; surety bond companies; realtors or their representatives; workers and/or their representatives; representatives from the consumer protection division of the office of the attorney general; consumers and/or advocates representing them; and local building officials.
The work group shall submit a report with recommendations to the department and, if applicable, the appropriate committees of the legislature by June 30, 2020. The report must address whether:
(i) Bond amounts are sufficient and appropriate to protect consumers, workers, and suppliers and meet tax obligations;
(ii) Additional criteria for contractors would provide a greater level of protection;
(iii) Strategies to discourage the transfer of a business to a different entity for the purpose of evading penalties or judgments under this chapter should be implemented;
(iv) Any other registration requirements or options for consumer recovery under this chapter should be changed to increase protections for consumers; and
(v) Incentives to adopt industry best practices would increase consumer protections.
(b) The work group must dissolve once the report is submitted.
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