The state of California has very strict laws in place to prevent the use of an unlicensed contractor in any building works. There are stiff consequences for both the unlicensed contractor and the person who hired them. More detail about these laws and how to stay on the right side of them can be found below.
California Laws on Hiring Unlicensed Contractors
The issue of unlicensed contractors is dealt with by the California State Licensing Board (CSLB). They consider unlicensed contractors to be part of the underground economy and this is something that they are very much against. It is not just the fact that the contractors are unlicensed that it is the problem, they may also be hiring people who are not qualified for the job they are carrying out. This is particularly important when it comes to building work as there is a danger that this work could be unsafe.
The Contractor Could Face Criminal Charges
The CSLB was set up at the request of the construction industry in 1929. It helps to protect customers by ensuring that there are strict regulations that contractors should adhere to. It also looks to raise the standards of construction in California. It has the power to investigate contractors that are suspected of not being registered. They are also able to carry out sweeps of construction sites to make sure that everyone who should have a license does have one. They will also make sure that all other regulations are being adhered to. Misdemeanor charges can be bought against anyone who is operating without a license. The maximum sentence for this charge is a $5000 fine or six months in prison. An administrative fine may also be given and will be added to the total. These fines can range from $200 to $15000. The penalty becomes more severe if the contractor continues to operate without a license. If they are bought before the court a second time then they will face a mandatory 90-day jail sentence. Their fine could also be increased to 20% of the total contract price if this is more than $5000. If another contractor’s license is used illegally then this will be classified as a felony charge. This will also apply to a contractor that has misled any potential client that they have the correct licensing in place. If this person is convicted of a felony charge then it is possible that they will serve any custodial sentence in state prison.
No Legal Rights In Cases Of Nonpayment
As well as the legal implications of not having a license, there are also financial concerns that can arise out of not being properly licensed. The CSLB has a number of free tools that contractors can use if they are dealing with a client that is reluctant to pay what they owe. Unlicensed contractors will not have access to any of these and therefore it can be quite difficult to get back any money that is owed. Unlicensed contractors also have no legal rights when it comes to suing for the money that they are owed.
Homeowners Can Be Considered At Fault
It is not only the contractor themselves that may face consequences for not having a license. If you suspect that your contractor does not have a license then you may be able to get some legal assistance. You will have to prove that to the best of your knowledge the contractor did have a license.
How To Report An Unlicensed Contractor?
If you suspect that a contractor does not have a license then you can report them to the CLSB. The state of California has very strict laws in place to prevent the use of an unlicensed contractor in any building works. There are stiff consequences for both the unlicensed contractor and the person who hired them.