Assemblymember Dababneh Pushes Bill to Strengthen PACE Program Consumer Protections
SACRAMENTO — Assemblymember Matt Dababneh (D – Woodland Hills) introduced a measure to enhance consumer protections for homeowners participating in California’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program and establishes government oversight of the PACE market.
Assembly Bill (AB) 1284 strengthens consumer protections by providing new requirements that serve as a direct response to consumer complaints about the program. First, program administrators would be required to enroll, train and monitor the activities of home improvement contractors and salespeople that act on their behalf (known as “PACE solicitors”). Second, the bill directs program administrators to determine a property owner’s ability to pay the annual payment obligations of a PACE assessment before a lien is placed on their property. Third, establishes requirements for properties that qualify for PACE assessments, including limits on the amount of financing based on the property’s value.
“The new consumer protections included in this bill are important to ensure consumers are not being taken advantage of by PACE solicitors or PACE administrators, eliminating unscrupulous activity that has come to light through recent reports,” remarked Assemblymember Dababneh. “By providing these new protections, we are able to help protect homeowners so they are not unknowingly committing to a contract and cost where they are not able to fulfill their financial obligation, potentially costing them their home.”
In addition to including new consumer protections, this measure authorizes the Department of Business Oversight (DBO) to regulate the activities of PACE program administrators. This component of the bill will help enforce the consumer protections laid out in AB 1284 along with the protections centered around financial disclosures that were established last year by Assemblymember Dababneh’s bill, AB 2693.
“After reading reports about the perceived shortcomings of PACE, I noticed similarities statewide about the complaints and realized it made sense to centralize oversight and enforcement in a state body. Bringing DBO into the equation to serve as a regulator will help ensure enforcement of current and future consumer protections by giving the state authority to go after companies that make false representations about the PACE Program,” stated Assemblymember Dababneh. “This is important because, currently, the only entities looking out for consumers are local governments, which do not always have the capacity or expertise to deal with these complaints. At this stage, the only option a consumer who has encountered difficulties with the PACE Program is to file a lawsuit. AB 1284 gives consumers another option by allowing them to file a complaint with DBO who can work to resolve the issue at hand.”
Assemblymember Dababneh hopes to have the bill heard in both the Senate and Assembly this week before the first year of the 2017-18 legislative session concludes Friday evening.