The Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) hears from consumers from all over the State of Florida who are victims of unlicensed persons. They hire unlicensed contractors for various reasons. Some consumers say they were not aware that the person they hired was unlicensed. Others don’t ask about licensing because they feel they are in a desperate situation or they just trust the “contractor’s” character.
A few didn't care at first because they thought they were being a “smart shopper” when they got a cheap price quote. Generally people just don’ t realize the potential financial harm they put themselves, their families and often their homes in, when they hire unlicensed persons. Occasionally they hear of people who were taken by an unscrupulous person, but they don’ t think it could happen to them.
Think it can’t happen to you? Think again!
The following are true stories from the DBPR website.
A homeowner reported he made a big mistake when he thought he could save money by hiring an unlicensed contractor to remodel his house. After paying nearly $130,000 he was left with an unfinished remodeling project, and liens from subcontractors and suppliers who were never paid for their services. These liens mean the subcontractors and suppliers have rights to his property to collect their money.
One homeowner reported that he wanted to build a guest room addition and a screened porch on his Central Florida home. He was introduced to a man by an acquaintance who had done maintenance work and “handyman projects” on the acquaintance’s home. The homeowner reported he was led to believe the man was a licensed contractor and qualified to perform the work. He placed his trust in the man and paid nearly $60,000 in cash, including a $25,000 down payment. The work was never completed, the homeowner cannot prove how much he paid, and has no money to hire anyone else to finish the job.
Two years ago a North Florida property owner contracted with a man who claimed to be experienced in home building. The project was to cost $75,000, which sounded very reasonable for a new home. It turned out he was not licensed, and the owner sought to act as her own contractor, using an “Owner Builder” permit . Things started off well, and the man appeared to be an actual licensed contractor. Subsequently the work stopped, the owner began to receive notices of non-payment from suppliers and subcontractors, and this resulted in liens against the property. The owner was left with an unfinished house and $45,000 in bills from suppliers and subcontractors. She filed a complaint with the department and this complaint was referred to the local state attorney. The criminal court found the man guilty of unlicensed contracting and ordered him to pay restitution and serve time in jail. However, the house remains unfinished and the likelihood of actually receiving the court-ordered restitution is dim.
A few years ago, after the state experienced a series of hard hitting hurricanes, a widowed homeowner needed to replace the hurricane damage to her roof. Like many people at the time, this woman was desperate to get her home repaired. One company canvassing her neighborhood presented letterhead and contracts with the name of a “contractor” and officer. She thought she could trust the salesman and the company. She contracted to have the roof replaced for $35,000, and took out a 2nd mortgage on her home to pay for the repairs. The company required $22,750 for a deposit, which is 65% of the contract price. The deposit check was cashed and no work was ever started. The homeowner then learned she was a victim of an unscrupulous and unlicensed person on the prowl in areas hard hit by the recent hurricanes, bilking homeowners who were desperate to find someone to repair their roof. The homeowner was left with a roof that remained damaged, a home that was uninhabitable, and a large debt to the bank that she has to repay.
I am writing to inquire if your Agency prosecutes individuals doing electrical work without a license? I live in a resident-owned Mobile Home Park in Central Florida. It is common knowledge in the neighborhood that the President of the Board of Directors for the Association does work for individuals in the association. He does not have a license. This person added an addition on to the mobile home of our disabled son who resides on the grounds. My late husband hired this person to do this work because he was told by other residents that this person was a licensed electrical contractor who had done work for numerous residents in the Village.
Recently my son's mobile home caught on fire. The Fire Marshal indicated the fire was likely caused by faulty electrical wiring. Subsequently, I contacted the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and learned this person does NOT have the required license, so he could not obtain a permit to do this work which means no inspections were done. I learned from other residents that they always believed this person did have the required license when they hired him to do work for them.
My son lost everything in the fire, and yet this individual who did the wiring seems to be able to do illegal work and get away with it. Please investigate this unlicensed individual who is taking advantage of residents.
Read more recent news about unlicensed activity in the State of Florida (this will open a new window)