Unlicensed Contractors Give Bad Name

They are not actual rats, but they don’t deserve any more respect than real vermin. Who? Unlicensed contractors who give legitimate licensed contractors a bad name and cause real damage to consumers who fall victim to their ‘low-down’ pitches. Now, another layer of ‘rat’ protection is actively seeking to trap these criminals. While most of what I write about is ‘clear’, sometimes I need to add to a prior column. What was not completely transparent in a recent column regarding potential problems with B&P Code 7031b, will now be given some ‘clarity’…

As intended, my recent exposure of a potentially serious problem for contractors has stimulated discussion of the issue. However, I believe a clarification may now be required for the column on B&P Code Section 7031 based on a few comments I’ve received.

In its entirety, my column (of 3/5/07) explained that 7031(b) was written to address “unlicensed” contractors. Unfortunately, if reading only the first portion of the column, a reader might inappropriately conclude that the law makes it a foregone conclusion that monies previously paid on a contract must be repaid if the license was not in good standing. My intent was to show that some attorneys are using section 7031(b) as a hammer held over the head of licensed contractors. Taken out of context the third paragraph for example might give an inadvertent impression. As of now, the State Supreme court – nor any other court that I’m aware of – has decided this issue. Hence, the reason I wrote of the need for discussion or legislative action to clarify what I believe to be the Legislature’s original intent: Go after the UNLICENSED contractor not the licensed company who may have a short-term suspension. However, until a ruling or legislative action clarifies this section, a threat remains for contractors.

Q: I am a roofing contractor and have a question that you may know the answer to. As of the first of the year, the State Contractors Board has started requiring that all Roofing Contractors (with employees or not) have an active Workman’s Comp Policy. I would like to know why no other trades have been required to follow this policy. Don’t get me wrong on this matter. I think it’s for the good. Thank you for your response.

A: This is a good question. From information presented at a recent CSLB meeting, it is my understanding that there are two main reasons roofers were singled out. First, there were relatively more problems with Worker’s Comp exemptions being filed by “C-39″ contractors when in fact the company had employees. Second, the “industry” asked for this as a way to self-regulate and protect those “C-39″ contractors that are playing by the rules. Depending on how this turns out, other trades may be next.

Those working without benefit of a contractor’s license should likely steer clear of Yolo County. In addition to the undercover efforts of the CSLB’s SWIFT enforcement stings to catch unlicensed contractors, a recent Sacramento Bee story noted 60 people arrested by the URAT program. The Yolo Unlicensed Response Apprehension Team –URAT- mounted four undercover stings in February. This is a county-based effort to reduce unfair competition for local business and protect county residents. As Jimmy Cagney is purported to have said, “take that you dirty rats!”

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