TRENTON, N.J. – Unlicensed moving and storage companies will face larger penalties for acting in bad faith. Today, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law a bill (S781) sponsored by Assemblywomen Serena DiMaso and Amy Handlin aiming to protect customers. It was unanimously passed by the legislature in June.
“Most movers are trustworthy and reliable, but there are businesses that avoid licensing and prey on customers,” said DiMaso (R-Monmouth). “Families trust 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 quadruples fees for subsequent violations to $20,000.
A person running a moving business without a license can be charged with a disorderly persons offense, a fine up to $1,000, six months in jail, a three-month driver’s license suspension, and impoundment of 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.”
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.