Haggard’s bill protecting homeowners from robocall scam advances to Senate

State Rep. Craig Haggard (R-Mooresville) represents House District 57, which includes portions of Hendricks, Johnson and Morgan counties.

STATEHOUSE (Feb. 14, 2024) The Indiana House of Representatives unanimously passed State Rep. Craig Haggard’s (R-Mooresville) bill, which he said would crack down on a robocall scam where homeowners receive a small cash offer in exchange for signing a decades-long contract that could cost them thousands.

According to the Indiana Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division, more than 300 Hoosiers entered into these contracts known as Homeowner Benefit Agreements. Robocallers generally offer to give homeowners between $500-$700 in exchange for signing a long-term contract, which gives the company exclusive rights to sell the home, if and when the homeowner decides to, or provide maintenance. A homeowner could only break the contract if they pay a termination fee, which could be 3% of their home’s value as estimated by the company.

“These bad actors prey on elderly and vulnerable homeowners by offering quick cash to lock them into costly contracts, which may last up to 40 years,” Haggard said. “Hoosiers could wind up losing thousands of dollars and face years of financial headaches. My legislation would stop these deceptive practices and protect homeowners. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and that’s certainly the case with these types of robocalls.”

Haggard said HBAs can be binding for up to 40 years, even if the property changes ownership, and the company can place a lien on the property’s title, which complicates a homeowner’s ability to refinance, access home equity and transfer ownership. The contract is often binding to the property, so it remains in place even after the owner’s death.

To help crack down on these unfair practices, Haggard said his legislation would make real estate service agreements unenforceable if it’s a contract for maintenance, purchase or sale of the property that is not expected to be completed within a year or is binding on future owners and creates liens on the property. This bill would also allow individuals adversely affected by these agreements to seek damages against the service provider. Exceptions would be made for home warranties covering systems such as plumbing, heating and cooling, and electrical wiring.

At least 16 other states enacted similar laws restricting HBAs and the Federal Communications Commission took action last year against these types of robocalls.

House Bill 1222 is now with the Indiana Senate for consideration. For more information, visit iga.in.gov.

About Brian Scott

I play on the radio from 7 am -1 pm weekdays on 98.9 WYRZ and WYRZ.org. Follow me on twitter @WYRZBrianScott or e-mail me at brian@wyrz.org.

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