- Unlicensed Contracting in Florida; Definition, penalties, and Defenses
- What is the penalty for unlicensed contractor in Florida?
- What is the statute of contracting without license in Florida?
- Did you know…
- Can I get in trouble for hiring an unlicensed contractor in Florida?
- Is it illegal to hire an unlicensed contractor in the state of Florida?
- What is the penalty for hiring an unlicensed contractor in Florida?
- Penalty for Hiring Unlicensed Contractor in Florida
- Definition of Unlicensed Contracting
- Do I need a license to install low voltage wiring such as cable TV outlets, satellite TV outlets, surround sound speaker systems or computer networks?
- Do I need a license to install low voltage landscape lighting?
- You can Help yourself
- Unlicensed Activity Program
- Report Unlicensed Activity
In Florida, it is a criminal offense to engage in contracting work or to act in the capacity of a contractor without a valid contract’s license. Unlicensed contracting is a serious crime carrying misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on the number of prior convictions.
In Florida, unlicensed contracting is generally charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1000.00 fine.
489.131 (7) Not withstanding s.455.288, the department may impose an administrative fine of up to $10,000 on any unlicensed person guilty f unlicensed contracting. In addition, the department may asses reasonable investigative and legal costs for persecution of the violation against the unlicensed contractor.
According to Florida Statute 455.228, if you hire an unlicensed individual, the Department of Business Regulations (D.B.P.R.) may issue a cease-and-desist order and also may take you to Circuit Court and could impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for aiding and abetting unlicensed activity. You could also be liable for court costs.
Yes, knowingly hiring an unlicensed contractor in Florida is illegal and may create civil liability and other punishment, especially if you are in the construction industry as a general contractor or developer.
Demeanor or felony penalties, depending on the number of prior convictions.
Yes, knowingly hiring an unlicensed contractor in Florida is illegal and may create civil liability and other punishment, especially in you are in the construction industry as a general contractor or developer. You should always confirm the contractor license number and its status before agreeing to work. July 13, 2022.
The first offense can result in first-degree misdemeanor that will include penalties or the person receiving 12 months of probation, up to one year in jail, and a $1000 fine. Further offenses are deemed third-degree felonies under Florida Statute 775.083.
The penalty for hiring unlicensed contractor in Florida is outlined in Florida Statutes Section 489.127
In a nutshell, there are nine ways a person can be in a position to commit a crime by being an unlicensed contractor in Florida. Should proof of such a violate be evident, it is sufficient to sustain a conviction in a court of law.
Unlicensed contracting can be either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts. The first offense can result in a first-degree misdemeanor that will include penalties or the person receiving 12 months of probation, up to one year in jail, and a $1,000 fine. Further offenses are deemed third-degree felonies under Florida Statute 775.083. A third-degree felony can incur up to five years in prison or probation and a $5,000 fine.
Additionally, any offense committed by an unlicensed contractor during a state of emergency declared by the governor is a third-degree felony.
Along with the potential for time in jail and subsequent fines, a person who is either convicted or pleads to a charge of contracting without a license is often subject to court-ordered restitution. Restitution can lead to awards in the tens of thousands of dollars. If the person fails to pay or does not pay in a timely manner, the defendant can be held in contempt of court.
Under Florida law, the offense of “Contracting Without a License” can encompass a broad range of conduct related to the construction and home improvement industries. Section 489.127 Florida Statutes, provide as follows:
- No person shall:
- Falsely hold himself or herself or business organization out as a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant;
- Falsely impersonate a certificate holder or registrant;
- Present as his or her own the certificate or registration of another;
- Knowing give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof;
- Use or attempt to use a certificate or registration that has been suspended or revoked;
- Engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or advertise himself or herself or a business organization as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified;
- Operate a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent without designating another primary qualifying agent, except as provided in SS.489.119 and 489.1195;
- Commence or perform work for which a building a permit is required pursuant to part IV of chapter 553 without such building permit being in effect; or
- Willfully or deliberately disregard or violate any municipal or county ordinance relating to uncertified or unregistered contractors.
There are nine different was to commit a crime of unlicensed contracting in Florida. Proof of any one violation is sufficient to sustain a conviction.
For purposes of the Florida statute, the term “Certificate’ means a certificate of competency issued by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. “Registration” means registration with the department in accordance with Chapter 489, Florida Statutes.
The term “Contracting” means that the accused engaged n the business of a “contractor”, as defined in Section 489.05, Florida Statutes. The statue defines “contractor” as a person who is responsible for a qualifying construction project and the person who, for compensation, undertakes to, submits a bid to, or does himself or herself or by others construct, repair, alter, remodel, add to, demolish, subtract from, or improve any building or structure, including related improvements to real estate, for others or for resale to others.
Penalties for Unlicensed Contracting
In Florida, unlicensed contracting is generally charged as a first-degree misdemeanor, with penalties of up to year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000 fine.
However, if the accused has been previously convicted of contracting without a license, the offense may be charged as third-degree felony, with penalties of up t 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine. A third felony may also charge where a person contracts without a license during a State of Emergency, as declared by executive order.
Aside from potential fines and jail sentences, a person convicted of or who pleads to a charge of Contracting Without a License will often be subject to court-ordered restitution. This occurs where the alleged victim claims that the defendant performed sub-standard or used sub-standard materials and caused a loss.
If a sufficient causal connection between the defendant’s work and the alleged loss, the defendant will likely be ordered to compensate the alleged victim through a restitution award. In many cases, restitutions awards can be tens of thousands of dollars. A failure to pay the restitutions or to pay it in a timely manner could result in the defendant being held in contempt of court.
Do I have to pay an unlicensed contractor in Florida?
Unlicensed contractors generally do not offer a contract, nor do they have lien rights. Their services are usually less expensive than those of a licensed contractor. Legally, you are not obligated to pay an unlicensed contractor.
Can you sue an unlicensed contractor in Florida?
Unlicensed contractors can be liable for punitive damages, criminal penalties, and even the homeowner’s attorney fees for being an unlicensed contractor. In Florida, you can file a lawsuit against your unlicensed contractor for breach of contract or even construction defect.
Can a homeowner do electrical work in Florida?
State law requires electrical contracting to be done by licensed electrical contractors. You have applied for a permit under an exemption to that law. The exemption allows you, as the owner of your property, to act as your own electrical contractor even though you do not have a license.
How do I report an unlicensed contracted in Florida?
Contractors are licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). To file a complaint for suspected unlicensed activity or other inappropriate actions by a contractor, contact DBPR : (850) 487-1395. www.myfloridalicense.com
What electrical work requires a permit in Florida?
As we said before: the Florida Building Code (FBC) requires that a building permit be obtained for all electrical work, including new installation, repairs, and upgrades. In addition, any electrical work done in Florida must be licensed, inspected, and approved by a certified professional March 16, 2023.
Who is required to have a contractor’s license in Florida?
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) issues general contractor licenses in Florida. Plumbers, electricians, painters, and HVAC contractors should have a general contractor license. The work you perform is likely to meet the criteria for this type of licensing. April 14,2022.
What is the prompt pay law in Florida?
State of Florida Prompt Pay Policy
(The State of Florida is required to pay all properly completed and corrected addressed invoices within 40 days of receipt of invoice for goods or services received).
Can handyman change a light fixture in Florida? To do the replacement of electrical outlets, switches, and light fixtures, you will need to obtain a lighting maintenance contractor license. We offer the books and classes to better prep you for both exams. To replace faucets, sink drain pipes, and toilets you will need a Plumbing Contractors License. June 17,2020.
What is considered low voltage in construction?
At its core, low voltage wiring refers to the electrical wiring that’s opposite the current of the power outlets, fixtures, and switches. When something is considered low voltage, it’s 50 volts or less. Dec 16,2022.
Yes, if you are installing wiring within a structure for any reason including the items listed a license is required. Low voltage wiring work (any wiring under 98 volts) can be done by someone with a certified or registered Limited Energy Specialty license, an Alarm System I or II license, an Electrical Contractor License or a Residential Electrical Specialty license. The license specifically for this work is called the Limited Energy Systems Specialty.
Yes. If you are not licensed as an electrical or alarm contractor, you must have a limited energy (low voltage) specialty license unless the system falls under the following exemption:
PROPERTY OWNERS BEWARE!!
A guide to Protecting yourself from unlicensed Individuals posing as Contractors each years property owners lose hundreds or thousands of dollars, not to mention the mental stress, to unlicensed individuals posing as contractors. STATE CERTIFIED, means those who have taken a state exam and can contract anywhere in the state of Florida.
The Building Division is committed to protecting the public against illegal contractors. Watch for warning signs which may indicate the person/company is not licensed….
- Newspaper/flyers or yellow page ads where only the telephone number appears and there is no business address.
- No license number on the vehicle, business card, contract newspaper/flyer or yellow page ad.
- A large down payment is requested before work begins.
- You are asked to obtain the permit.
- Permit is obtained by someone other than the person or company contracting to do the work.
- You’re informed that the job does not require a permit or inspection.
- Verbal contract only, person is not willing to pull all terms in writing.
- Then individual is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
- Many requests for money (draws) during early phases of construction.
- You are asked to make checks payable in the individual’s name when it should be in a company name, or asked to make payment in cash, or to make a check payable to “cash”.
- The individual does not have proof of General Liability or Worker’s Compensation insurance.
Did you know….
- According to Florida Statute 455.228, if you hire an unlicensed individual, the Department of Business Regulations may issue a cease-and-desist order and also may take you to Circuit Court and could impose a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for aiding and abetting unlicensed activity. You could also be liable to for court costs.
- Also, Florida Statute 489.128 reads: “As a matter of public policy, contracts entered into on or after October 1, 1990, and performed in full or in part by any contractor who fails to obtain or maintain his license… shall be unenforceable in law, or in equity… “
- The hiring of an unlicensed individual could cause you to pay more for the job, than if you had 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 individuals fails to pay his sub-contractors or suppliers, you may be required to pay them, even though you have already paid the “contractor”.
- As the property owner, you are responsible for making sure that the proper permits
- Are obtained for the job.
- You may be held liable for any injuries on your property if the unlicensed individual has no insurance or worker’s compensation.
You can greatly reduce your risk of loss to an unlicensed contractor by doing the following:
1st Call to obtain a second bid for the work to be done.
2nd Require references and call to verify those references.
3rd Check on-line at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp to see if the individual has a State License.
4th All Licensed Contractors are aware of the Florida Statute that make it a penalty for them or anyone acting as an agent on their behalf to present, distribute, display a business card, contract, offer of service, sign, letterhead, vehicle or any form of advertising without displaying their Contractor’s License Number.
The Unlicensed Activity (ULA) program within the Department of Business and Professional Regulation exists to serve the citizens of the State of Florida by educating them about the dangers of unlicensed activity and investigating complaints filed against unlicensed individuals. The ULA unit works in conjunction with law enforcement and the state attorney’s offices to prosecute individuals practicing without a license. During a declared state of emergency, the penalty for unlicensed activity is elevated from a misdemeanor to a third- degree felony.