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RULE §80.72Sanctions and Penalties

(a) In accordance with the provisions of §1201.605 of the Standards Act, the Director may assess and enforce penalties and sanctions against a person who violates any applicable law, rule, regulation, or administrative order of the Department.

(b) The determination of any penalties or other sanctions to be assessed shall be based on the consideration of statutory factors and whether the person against whom such penalties and/or sanctions are to be assessed has timely and in good faith taken the necessary steps to achieve, to the extent feasible, full compliance with all applicable state and federal laws, rules, and regulations and taken appropriate measures to prevent future violations.

(c) When a licensee first receives written notification of a claim for warranty service, the licensee must respond promptly to the request. A failure to do so shall constitute a violation of this chapter.

(d) Immediate corrective action is required if the matter involves an imminent safety hazard.

(e) If, after reasonable investigation, a licensee disputes whether warranty service is required and the licensee is unable to resolve the matter by agreement with the consumer, the licensee may request that the Department perform an inspection of the home. The running of the time to respond to the request for warranty service will be suspended from the time the request for inspection is received until the Department performs the inspection and issues its findings. When the Department concludes its review it will work with the affected licensee(s) and consumer(s) to agree upon a reasonable time to address its findings. In the event the parties cannot agree on a reasonable time, the Director shall issue a revised order assigning a time for compliance. An agreed or ordered time to respond to a request for warranty service may be extended by the Director in response to a request setting forth good cause for the extension. Any such request must be made to the Director prior to the expiration of the allotted time for response. Requests may be made by U.S. First Class mail, by FAX, or by e-mail, or, if followed with written confirmation sent U.S. First Class mail, or by telephone.

(f) Any and all penalties are IN ADDITION to full compliance with the Standards Act and Rules (i.e., full, prompt corrective action, restitution, or whatever else the Standards Act and rules would have required in the first place). Failure to provide such compliance on a timely basis, as specified in the applicable order, will be deemed to be a violation of the order and serve as a basis for pursuing additional administrative action, including the assessing of additional penalties and the pursuit of suspension or revocation of licenses.

(g) The Department offers, at no charge, alternative dispute resolution as an inexpensive and informal way of attempting to resolve any claim or dispute. Depending on the parties, this may involve informal meetings or non-binding mediation. Alternative dispute resolution is available upon request. In the event that a disputed matter cannot be resolved in this manner, the Department reserves the right to pursue all other lawful means of resolution including, but not limited to, pursuit of administrative remedies.

Source Note: The provisions of this §80.72 adopted to be effective March 25, 2012, 37 TexReg 1307

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