Two Ocean County-based home repair firms - and 12 more in Monmouth, Burlington and Atlantic Counties - are among 51 inside and outside state borders, cited for violations in the first three months of 2016 by the New Jersey Division of Community Affairs (DCA).

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images
Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

State officials seek $844, 477 in penalties and restitution for lapsed, or no, state registration; poor workmanship; incomplete projects paid in advance; failure to refund deposits; and other alleged violations of the Consumer Fraud Act and the Home Contractors' Registration Act.

Twenty-six were cited for registration discrepancies. Company operators are required to supply a physical address and proof of at least $500,000 of liability insurance coverage.

Civil penalites amounted to $180,750, and restitution totalled $663,727, in amounts between $250 and $134,093, officials said.

Contractors can contest the allegations, discontinue practices that generated the citations, pay penalties and restitution, and apply for registration. Firm operators who fail to respond are found in default and are dunned full penalties and resititution.

Customers can get updates on DCA investigations of specific contractors at 800-242-6200.

DCA officials suggest that customers hire contractors that they know, check references, check the liability policy and confer with the insuror.

Arrange for contracts in writing and be aware that home improvement agreements can be cancelled, in writing to the firm, within three days of receiving the copy. Advance payments must be returned to you within 30 days of cancellation.

Contracts valued at $500 or more must be in writing and include the vendor's legal name, business address, registration number, start and end dates, project description, lists of the brands or quality of materials involved, total cost, and DCA's toll-free number. Warranties and guarantees must be in writing.

The agency can apprise potential customers of a contractor's registration status and, where applicable, previous complaints and legal action, and act on complaints. Visit the DCA web page or call 800-242-5846.

Consumers can find additional information in English here, and in Spanish here. Contractors can find registration materials here.

More From 92.7 WOBM