RMO & Qualifiers, SWIFT Stings and the Underground Economy

The CA Contractor’s Board is making decisions that will have ramifications for all who ‘qualify’.  More than one Registrar is also ‘aiming’ high in defeating some low-down activity…

 

At it’s September meeting in Sacramento the CSLB took action on a number of issues, including setting up a Task Force to look at the duties and responsibilities of qualifying individuals.  The discussion centered around a perceived lack of “understanding by license applicants, licensees and the public on the minimum requirements of the individual qualifying on behalf of a firm (Responsible Managing Officer (RMO) or Qualifying Partner (QP)”.

 

The CSLB has determined that some “retiring” licensees are serving as an RMO on a corporate license for a monthly fee but have “no direct involvement in the construction and business activities”.  To address this problem, the Board has recommended that: 1) information be distributed clarifying the duties and responsibilities of the qualifying individual; 2) pursue legislation to amend B&P Code 7068.1(d) to provide for disciplinary action “when a licensee or qualifier fails to comply with the duties and responsibilities the qualifying individual certified he/she would perform”; and 3) “establish a task force to further identify the scope of the problem; investigate suspected individuals who attempt to qualify multiple licenses; and explore administrative and legislative remedies.”

We would also like to see the Task Force look at a fourth area to make clear that a Responsible Managing Officer is in compliance with the Board’s rules and regulations where, for instance, there are multiple ongoing projects some of which are overseen by his or her director of operations, project manager, superintendent, etc.

 

The task force may want to look at what we perceive as a disturbing trend where attorney’s go to court to challenge a contractor’s legitimate compliance with Code Section 7068.1 in order to make a case for using what might be described as ‘draconian’ penalties in B&P Code 7031 (the section of law that deals with recovering compensation and/or forcing a contractor to pay back all monies received on a contract if they’re determined to be “unlicensed”).

Also, according to a recent Press Release, for the second time in three months, the California Contractors Board (CSLB) and Arizona Registrar of Contractors (ROC) joined with several other state licensing boards, including Nevada, Utah, and Oregon in a sting of unlicensed contractors advertising on Craigslist.    The combined effort led to over 150 unlicensed contractor investigations.   In CA alone, 36 individuals were arrested and now face misdemeanor charges of contracting without a license, illegal advertising and/or requesting an excessive down payment.  According to the Board, “eight of the phony contractors were issued Stop Orders”.

 

Additionally, the participating Contracting Boards along with the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) again issued a nationwide consumer alert regarding irregularities on the Internet. According to CSLB Registrar Steve Sands, “While Craigslist serves as a valuable free tool for legitimately licensed and insured contractors, the number of illegal and deceptive ads is growing like wildfire”.

The Arizona sting led to 9 unlicensed contractor investigations. The ROC routinely refers unlicensed contracting cases to the Maricopa County Attorney’s office for prosecution.

Not only are these State agencies trying to protect consumers by deterring illegal construction activities, but they also aim to level the playing field for legitimate contractors in the industry.

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