Wow. Just when you think our courts are becoming more business friendly, the Connecticut Supreme Court issues a decision on whether businesses can enforce oral contracts. The answer for Homemaker Companion Agencies is a resounding “no.” This isn’t too surprising because, similar to home improvement agreements which must be in writing and signed by the homeowner, contracts between consumers and agencies that provide homecare services must also be in writing and signed by the consumer. There are other examples, including agreements to sell a piece of real estate, and loans over $50,000, which for the most part must be in writing.
As we’ve discussed before here and here, home improvement agreements that do not comply with the law can still be enforced by a contractor if the homeowner act in bad faith. In this very recent case, a Connecticut Homemaker Companion Agency sued one of its clients to collect money owed for home care services. But the agency never got the signed contract back from its client.
Even though the client admitted it had received the written contract, the client said it’d put it in an envelope and forgotten about. That did not save the agency, which the court faulted for not following up on and pushing for the signed agreement, and the agency lost out on over $21,000 in services.
The court in this case (read it here for lawyer geeks like me) refused to decide whether or not bad faith by the client could excuse a Homemaker Companion Agency’s failure to have a written and signed contract that followed the law. You can read about laws governing Homemaker Companion Agencies on the State of Connecticut Consumer Protection website here.
LESSON LEARNED: Certain contracts have to be in writing to be enforced. Know the rules that govern the area of business you operate and follow them. There may be specific statutes that apply to your business. Home Improvement Contractors and Homemaker Companion Agencies are just two examples.