Common Licensing Violations Committed By Certified Contractors
Hiring a contractor to do work on your home or commercial property can be risky. With so many “fly by night” operators that are here today and gone tomorrow, you need to do you due diligence and thoroughly vet the contractor who will be working on your project. Some of the steps to take when considering a contractor include:
- Look for only contractors who are licensed, bonded, and insured;
- Find out how long they have been in business;
- Find out if they have any complaints with the BBB or Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation;
- Ask for references from the contractor that you can call to find out what others say about their work.
Sometimes property owners do everything right and things still go wrong. Contractors that are certified and seem to check out okay may still end up committing licensing violations that can cost the owner time, energy, and resources.
There are several types of licensing violations committed by certified contractors, some common violations include:
Omitting or Misrepresenting a Material Fact when Obtaining or Renewing a License
Some certified contractors should not be licensed in the first place. This is because when they applied for a license (or applied to renew an existing license), they either failed to report an important fact or misrepresented that fact. Had they been truthful on the application, their license application or renewal may not have been approved.
Failure to Obtain a Required Work Permit
Many licensed contractors perform work in municipalities all over the state of Maryland, and each locality has their own specific permitting requirements. Contractors who are busy all the time and perform a high volume of work sometimes have a hard time keeping up with all the various permit requirements. When a contractor fails to pull the required permits, the property owner is at risk of being cited for building code violations, being subject to fines and penalties, and having to pay to tear out and rework the project. The local governing agency determines how permit violation penalties are assessed, and many times, the property owner is the one stuck paying to fix this violation.
Hiring an Unqualified Subcontractor
The contractor may be licensed, but the subcontractors they hire to perform various tasks at the construction site may not be. Some contractors try to get around this by hiring a subcontractor through a middle man who is fully licensed and vouching for the legitimacy of the subcontractors. In October, a new law went into effect that will make it more difficult for contractors to avoid responsibility for the subcontractors they hire. The law is called the General Contractor Liability for Unpaid Wages Act. This law makes contractors responsible for wage and hour law violations of subcontractors who work directly under them (first-tier subcontractors), as well as second and third-tier subcontractors.
Abandoning the Construction Project
If a contractor does not start and/or complete a project within a reasonable period of time, or the contractor simply stops showing up, this may be considered abandonment of a construction project. There are some instances in which project abandonment may be justified because of the actions of the property owner. If, however, a contractor abandons a project without just cause and without properly notifying the owner, it may be a licensing violation. One common example of just cause for abandoning a project may be failure to pay the contractor as agreed for work completed. It should be noted that project abandonment may also occur if a contractor fails to pay subcontractors for their work, thus causing them not to show up at the job site.
What to Do if a Contractor Commits a Licensing Violation
If you have sustained damages because of a licensing violation committed by a certified contractor, there are legal remedies available. These may include monetary damages, the requirement that the contractor perform a specific act, cancellation of the contract and payment of restitution, and injunctive relief. The right legal option will depend on the specific violation that occurred and other circumstances of your particular case. The find out your rights and legal options it is best to speak with an experienced attorney.
At the Law Offices of Matthew S. Evans, LLC, we have extensive knowledge of construction law, contract disputes, civil litigation, and how these and related areas of law converge during disputes with contractors. Our lawyers have over two decades of combined experience in these areas of law and a successful track record securing favorable outcomes on behalf of our clients. Call our office today at 410-626-6009 for an initial consultation or send a secure and confidential message through our online contact form for a case review. You may also visit us in person at our office in Annapolis.