The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) coordinated sting operations resulting in 775 cases of violating state licensing requirements.
This synchronized national enforcement effort targeted: Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Florida, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina (2), Oregon, Texas, and Utah. The intention was to combat “the increased illegal unlicensed activity nationally” and “to warn consumers that they need to be aware of these activities for regulatory compliance.”
Of those 775 cases, 142 legal actions were in California. The California State Licensing Board (CSLB) partnered with local law enforcement to conduct three undercover sting operations in South Lake Tahoe, El Dorado County; Salinas, Monterey County; and Redding, Shasta County. Undercover stings target unlicensed contractors, with investigators contacting the suspects through their advertisements.
The suspected unlicensed operators came to the sting locations to place bids on projects including ceramic and mosaic tile, concrete, deck work, fencing, flooring, landscaping, painting, plumbing, tree services, and sheet metal. As a result, 40 legal actions were filed, and 32 people are subject to misdemeanor criminal charges for contracting without a license. Unlicensed contractors can face penalties of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $15,000 if they bid or contract for work valued at more than $500.
CSLB also conducted 53 site sweeps in: Contra Costa, El Dorado, Fresno, Kern, Los Angeles, Marin, Monterey, Napa, Orange, Placer, Sacramento, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, Santa Barbara, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Ventura counties “that resulted in 102 legal actions against licensed and unlicensed contractors. Twenty-six legal actions were for unlicensed contracting, and 38 Stop Orders were issued, which halted all employee labor at active job sites where contractors did not have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
“During the stings and sweeps, six individuals were also cited for requesting an excessive down payment. In California, a home improvement project down payment can’t exceed 10 percent of the contract total or $1,000, whichever is less. Subsequent payments may not exceed the value of work being paid for. This misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
During operations, unlicensed individuals were given information on getting licensed and were invited to attend one of CSLB’s Licensed to Build workshops. CSLB also created a new B-2 licensing classification for home remodeling intending to promote small businesses’ growth and increase consumer protection.
For their protection, CSLB recommends that consumers get at least three bids and check references before hiring someone for a construction job. Consumers can quickly check if a contractor is licensed on CSLB’s online Instant License Check.”
Read more about the NASCLA efforts here.