Protecting Yourself Against Unlicensed Contractors in Florida

Each year homeowners and businessmen lose hundreds of thousands of dollars, not to mention the mental stress, to uncertified (unlicensed) contractors and craftsmen posing as contractors.

The new mold licensing law will help prevent the kind of fraud that has plagued the construction industry. Those who are currently working have an opportunity to “grandfather in” for licensing if they have the propert training and certification from a National Organization like NORMI, the National Organization of Remediators and Mold Inspectors.

The State of Florida is committed to doing all it can to protect the public against illegal contractors by educating the public and offering the following suggestions. Watch for the following warning signs, these may indicate the person/company is not certified.

• You are asked to obtain the permit.
• A large down payment is required before work begins.
• No license number on the vehicle, business card, contract, newspaper/flyer or yellow page ad.
• Contractor displays only an “Occupational License” which is required in addition to Certificate of Competency.
• Permit is obtained by someone other than the person/company to do the work.
• You are informed that the job does not require a permit or inspection.
• Verbal contract only, person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
• The contractor is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
• May request front money (money before work begins).
• The contractor does not have proof of General Liability or Workman’s Compensation Insurance.

The following is a few of the things you need to know concerning the use of an unlicensed contractor.

According to Florida Statute 455.228, if you hire an unlicensed contractor, the Department of Professional Regulations (D.P.R.) may issue a cease and desist order and also may take you to Circuit Court, which has the authority to impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for aiding and assisting unlicensed activity. You could also be liable for court cost.
• If you pull a permit for an unlicensed contractor, you are held responsible for the work, not the contractor.
• If you hire an unlicensed contractor, you may actually pay more for the job, than if you hired a licensed contractor. Especially, if the work is done incorrectly or never finished, you may have to pay twice or more for the same job to be corrected or finished.
• If the unlicensed contractor fails to pay his sub-contractors or suppliers, you may be required to pay them, even though you have already paid the contractor.
• Plumbing, electrical, and heating and air conditioning, mold assessment/remediation work should be done only by contractors and craftsmen certified in those trades and may require separate permits.
• Home improvement contractors must be certified by the State of Florida as either a General, Building, or Residential contractor.
• Roofing contractors are required to be certified or registered by the State.
• There is no such thing as a “legal” jack-of-all-trades.
• An “Occupational License” is not a regulatory license or a certificate of competency, but a tax for the privilege of engaging in or managing a business, profession or occupation.
• You may be held liable for injury on your property if the unlicensed contractor has no insurance or Workman’s Compensation.

For more information you may contact NORMI at 877.251.2296

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