Final legislative action on bill cracking down on illegal moving companies scheduled for Monday

Final legislative action on bill cracking down on illegal moving companies scheduled for Monday

Serena DiMaso

TRENTON, N.J. – Unlicensed moving and storage companies face increased penalties under legislation scheduled for an Assembly vote on Monday. Sponsored by Assemblywomen Serena DiMaso and Amy Handlin, the bill (S781/A4884/A3617) passed the Senate in June and with Assembly approval will move to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk for consideration.

“Most movers are trustworthy and reliable, but there are unscrupulous businesses that avoid licensing and prey on customers,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Families entrust their movers with a lifetime of possessions, and once that truck is loaded, they are powerless until the cargo is delivered.”

The legislation doubles the maximum civil penalties for movers operating without a license to $5,000 for a first offense, and increases fees for subsequent violations to $20,000 from $5,000.

A person running a moving business without a license can be charged with a disorderly persons offense, with a fine up to $1,000, six months in jail, a three-month driver’s license suspension, and impoundment of moving vehicles.

“Unlicensed movers and warehousing companies can be a nightmare for consumers, in some cases literally holding their clothes and furnishings hostage,” said Handlin (R-Monmouth). “That will end under this bill. We’re putting some teeth in the law and significantly increasing the penalties as a deterrent to predatory operators.”

In August, the state Division of Consumer Affairs fined 29 unlicensed moving companies. All the companies advertised online. DiMaso and Handlin’s bill requires unlicensed operators to remove their websites, or face a fine of $1,000 per day for non-compliance.

The bill also specifies if a moving or storage company is paid in full and an employee fails to release the property to the owner, the employee can be charged with a fourth degree crime which comes with a fine up to $10,000 and 18 months in jail.