KENTON — Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced a lawsuit has been filed against a Lakeview home improvement contractor accused of failing to deliver promised services to consumers in several northwest Ohio counties.
The lawsuit accuses Kelly E. Lange, individually and doing business as KL Topsoil Property Maintenance, of multiple violations of Ohio’s Consumer Sales Practices Act.
“This supplier has shown a disregard for the law and for his customers,” DeWine said. “We are taking this action because we don’t want other consumers to be harmed. We also are encouraging any consumers who have complaints against this or other home improvement contractors to contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.”
According to the lawsuit, Lange advertised on Craigslist and through a local circular, “The County Classifieds,” offering various home improvement goods or services, including property clean-up, household moving and hauling and demolition of houses and barns.
At least five consumers filed complaints with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and Better Business Bureau reporting an average loss of $1,100.
In their complaints, consumers said Lange failed to start the work within the agreed upon time period, failed to complete the jobs, or failed to do any work. He also allegedly accepted large cash deposits or checks and refused to provide refunds.
Consumers from Hardin County, Auglaize County, Wyandot County and Allen County have filed complaints, though additional consumers may be affected.
The Attorney General’s lawsuit, filed in the Hardin County Common Pleas Court, charges Lange with failure to deliver, failure to register a business name with the Ohio Secretary of State, failure to comply with the Deposit Rule, and performing shoddy work.
In the lawsuit, the Attorney General seeks an end to Lange’s violations of the Consumer Sales Practices Act and an order requiring him to pay consumer restitution and civil penalties.
DeWine offered consumers the following tips for entering into a home improvement transaction:
• Check out a contractor before making any payments. Search for complaints on file with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office or Better Business Bureau.
• Get multiple estimates. For a large job, consider contacting at least three different contractors before making a final determination.
• Determine whether the business name is registered with the Ohio Secretary of State. In general, unless someone is operating under his or her own given name (such as “Jane Smith’s Contracting”), business names must be registered.
• Ask for a detailed written contract. The contract should include the estimated costs, the starting and end dates, and the names of individuals who will perform the work.
• Any time you make a deposit, make sure you receive a dated receipt listing the amount you paid.
• Keep thorough records. Having documentation will help if you encounter problems.
• Don’t pay in cash or make large down payments, and be skeptical if someone asks you to make a check payable to an individual, rather than his or her business.
Consumers who believe they have been treated unfairly should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
A copy of the lawsuit is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.