Shady moving and storage companies targeted by bill

Shady moving and storage companies targeted by bill

Serena DiMaso

TRENTON, N.J. – Legislation cracking down on unlicensed moving and storage companies continues to advance, passing the Assembly Appropriations Committee today. The bill (S781/A4884/A3617) increases penalties on illegitimate operators.

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

The legislation, also sponsored by Assemblywoman Amy Handlin, targets the rogue operations, doubling the maximum civil penalties for operating without a license to $5,000 for a first offense, and increasing fees for subsequent violations to $20,000 from $5,000.

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.

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.

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

The bill 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.

In June, the Senate passed the bill, and it cleared the Assembly Regulated Professions Committee in January.