SWIFT Enforcement, License Renewal & CSLB Update

The ability to do business as a contractor is a privilege. The contractor’s license certifies your legitimacy. For consumers, the license is protection against shoddy work and the unscrupulous posing as legitimate contractors. SWIFT action recently showed some of the unlicensed contractors coming to a home near you are often breaking more than one law…

The CSLB conducted a “California Blitz” in 10 cities between March 8th and 10th. A total of 135 suspected unlicensed contractors were arrested during the statewide undercover operation putting a glaring spotlight on the severe risks California consumers take when they hire unlicensed operators to work in and around their home. The stings were conducted in Kings, Madera, Marin, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, Sacramento, San Diego, Shasta and Tulare counties.

Two of those arrested were registered sex offenders. Investigators also found that two others from Shasta & Tulare Counties had “No Bail” warrants and were taken to jail. Another suspect in Tulare County was hauled off to jail after it was discovered that he had eight different arrest warrants for driving under the influence and other traffic violations. Another suspect caught in the Kings County sting had a $50,000 arrest warrant and was carted off to jail.

During the “Blitz” investigators from the Board’s Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) posed as homeowners or landlords, asking for bids on projects that ranged from landscaping, concrete, and fencing to painting, gutters, garage doors, cabinets, tile work, and tree trimming. Those who bid more than the legal limit of $500 for labor and materials or were not in compliance with other regulations faced a misdemeanor charge of contracting without a license and a Notice to Appear (NTA) in Superior Court.

The goal of CSLB’s twice-yearly blitz is to educate consumers about the dangers of hiring phony contractors, and to encourage people who qualify and want to work in the construction trades to get their contractor license. Local prosecutors and law enforcement agencies, as well as the California Department of Insurance, Department of Toxic Substances Control, and the Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement assisted the CSLB with these sting operations.

Q: I just learned that my license was not renewed last month. I don’t know how this happened since I’m very careful to make sure this gets taken care of promptly. I did move 6 months ago and thought I had informed the Board of this fact. Now a contractor is refusing to pay me and is even threatening to go to court since I’m operating under an expired license. Please help me get this straightened out as soon as possible.

A: The license renewal is the lifeblood of contractors. Without an active license, a contractor should not be working and in fact should stop ALL current projects. Further, as you discovered, your company may be subject to severe financial penalties. My research indicates that the CSLB still has your prior address on file. In most cases the postal service will not forward these mailings, so the renewal was undoubtedly returned to the Contractors Board.

I could not determine if the Board ever received your address change. At this point, you can request that the renewal be sent to the correct address or have someone pick it up in person on your behalf. You can also fly up to Sacramento and take care of this personally. Whatever you decide, I strongly recommend that you request a ‘retroactive renewal’ pursuant to B&P Section 7141.5. This must be in writing and must be done within 90 days of your expiration date.

The Registrar of Contractors has periodic meetings with the Construction Industry. A report on last weeks meeting will be covered in an upcoming column. Issues discussed included CSLB sponsored legislation, updates on licensing issues including LLC implementation and the Board’s Sunset Review.

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