The City of Belle Plaine has been flooded with solicitors since hail hit town more than a month ago, on Thursday, June 17.
“It’s more companies that I’ve never heard of before coming down into our town,” said Don Paul, owner of Paul’s Roofing Inc. in Belle Plaine.
Between Friday, June 18, and Tuesday, July 19, the City of Belle Plaine received 42 applications for Door to Door Solicitors/Peddlers permits from a total of 66 individual solicitors.
Of those requests, 20 applications with 25 attached solicitors have been approved, and two applications with three solicitors attached to the application are in process.
Applicants who are approved for a permit from the city have gone through a completed background check. The approved peddlers are issued a photo ID from the city as well as a permit number.
Residents are encouraged to report unlicensed solicitors to the Belle Plaine Police Department's non-emergency number 952-873-4307.
In addition, Paul said he encourages residents to do their own research before signing any contracts or even giving a solicitor access to their roofs to assess damage.
He suggests asking for referrals, finding out how long a company has been in business, and making sure they are licensed and insured.
Paul said some solicitors are asking homeowners to sign contracts before they even go up on the roof to assess the damage.
“In 35 years I’ve never done that. I don’t have anybody sign anything until I do their job,” he said.
He said that’s not necessary, and can lead to exploitation of the homeowner.
“This elderly lady from town that I know signed a contract not realizing what was in it, and it said if you cancel out, we get 25% of what your roof is going to be without even doing anything,” he said. “If it’s a $20,000 roof, they’re going to take $5,000 just because she went with somebody else. It’s terrible.”
He said some door-to-door solicitors can be trustworthy, but he hopes homeowners do their own research and continue to choose local companies when possible.
He said it helps the community and helps the homeowner ensure someone will be around to address any issues that may come up with the work down the line.
“I feel for the people. It’s not that I need the work, because I have plenty of work,” he said. “Look up how long they’ve been in business and try to give it to local people that you know are going to be here for the next 30 years.”