A series of statewide stings and sweeps conducted by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) has identified unauthorized activity in the California construction industry, putting consumers at risk.
During the three sting and sweep operations in South Lake Tahoe, Salinas and Redding, 142 lawsuits were filed, mostly for unlicensed and uninsured practices.
From June 6-24, 2022, CSLB partnered with local law enforcement in these operations to target unlicensed contractors, with investigators contacting suspects through their advertisements.
The alleged unlicensed operators traveled to the sting locations to place bids on projects such as ceramic and mosaic tiles, concrete, decking, fencing, flooring, landscaping, painting, plumbing, sheet metal and tree services. As a result, a total of 40 lawsuits have been filed and 32 people face criminal misdemeanor charges for contracting without a license. Unlicensed contractors can face up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $15,000 if they bid or contract for work worth more than $500.
Whenever there is a fire or other disaster that requires a contractor to work on a business or home, unlicensed contractors seem to come out of the woods, and the CSLB urges homeowners to be careful.
One of the many ways unlicensed contractors can hurt homeowners is if they don’t meet minimum skill requirements, don’t have a license bond, or carry insurance against accidents at work, which puts consumers at risk.
“Unlicensed individuals can be dangerous to consumers,” said David Fogt, CSLB Registrar. ‘Unlicensed contractors have failed to meet licensing requirements, have undergone background checks and lack appropriate insurance.’
Fifty-three construction site sweeping operations were also conducted 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 lawsuits against licensed and unlicensed contractors. Twenty-six of the lawsuits were for unlicensed contracts and 38 stop orders were issued that halted all work by employees on active job sites where contractors did not have workers’ compensation insurance for their employees.
The enforcement action was part of a nationwide effort coordinated by the National Association of State Contractor Licensing Agencies to educate consumers about the importance of hiring licensed contractors and the associated risks. to the use of unauthorized operators.
“National enforcement operations are critical to educating consumers about the risks of not verifying a contractor’s license,” Fogt said. “It only takes a few seconds to find a contractor’s license information on the CSLB website to confirm they are licensed.”
To find and confirm that someone is licensed, visit Find my licensed contractor.
During the stings and swipes, six people were also cited for asking for an excessive down payment. In California, a down payment for a home improvement project cannot exceed 10% of the contract total or $1,000, whichever is less, and subsequent payments cannot exceed the value of the work 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 received information on obtaining a license and were invited to attend one of CSLB’s License to Build workshops. The CSLB has also created a new B-2 license classification for home improvement in an effort to promote small business growth and increase consumer protection.
For their protection, CSLB recommends that consumers obtain at least three offers and check references before hiring someone for construction work. Consumers can quickly check if a contractor is licensed on the online CSLB Instant License Verification.
From License Verification, consumers can also view the individual contractor’s license page, which indicates whether the contractor has worker’s compensation insurance for employees. Contractors without workers’ compensation insurance should not have workers on site. Consumers can find a list of licensed contractors in their area using CSLB’s Find My Licensed Contractor site.