How to Deal with a Florida Contractor License Suspension
The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulations regulates and licenses individuals and businesses as contractors and other types of professionals. Nearly all contractors are required to obtain licenses before they can perform work on construction projects. Unlicensed contractors can be charged with first-degree misdemeanors carrying potential penalties of 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Repeat offenses can be charged as third-degree felonies. People whose applications for licensing have been denied and those whose licenses are suspended are prohibited from working as contractors. A Florida contractor license suspension can force a business to close and cause significant financial harm. Here is some information you should know about licensing requirements and reinstatement from Florida construction lawyer Jonathan P. Cohen, Esq.
What Is Unlicensed Contracting?
Unlicensed contracting includes multiple actions within the construction industry. Some of the most common reasons why someone might be found to have engaged in unlicensed contracting include the following:
- Presenting another contractor’s license as yours
- Performing work on a project without securing a required building permit
- Claiming to be licensed when you are not
- Providing false evidence to the DBPR
- Using a suspended or revoked license to secure or perform work
If you are charged and convicted of unlicensed contracting, you could face a jail sentence, stiff fine, and a potential probationary sentence. You might also be ordered to pay restitution.
Reasons Why a License Could Be Suspended
A contractor’s license can be suspended for numerous reasons, including the common problems described below.
- Failing to Comply With Bonding Requirements
You are required to get and maintain a surety bond as a licensing requirement. You must also comply with the requirement of your bond. For example, if you allow your bond to expire without renewing it, or your surety company cancels your required bond, your license can be suspended. Similarly, a bond claim that reduces your bond below its required amount can also result in a license suspension.
- Failing to Maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance
Employers in Florida must carry workers’ compensation insurance to protect their workers in case they are injured while working on the job. If you fail to carry workers’ compensation insurance, allow your policy to expire, or your policy is canceled without you purchasing a new policy, your license could be suspended.
- Failing to Take Care of or Report Judgments
If a civil judgment is obtained against you or your company, you must report it to the DBPR within a specified time. If you fail to report or pay it, your license could be suspended by the state.
Can Your License Be Suspended for Defaulted Student Loans?
Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act on July 1, 2020. This law made multiple changes to the state’s licensing laws. Under the Act, the DPBR can no longer suspend or revoke a contractor’s license solely based on the contractor being in default on his or her student loan obligations. Other changes that were made under this law include the following:
- The DBPR must have reciprocity agreements with licensing bodies in other states with similar licensing laws.
- Inconsequential work that can be performed without a license can be performed as long as it doesn’t exceed $2,500 in value.
- Licensed contractors can sit for other licensing exams without waiting to have the minimum required experience, but they will need to have the minimum required experience before the license will be issued.
- Contractors who have been licensed in other states for 10 or more years can apply for licensure by endorsement.
- Electrical contractors have a reduced requirement for continuing education.
Can A License Be Denied, Suspended, or Revoked Based on Bankruptcy?
While § 489.115, Fla. Stat. (2021) requires applicants to provide credit reports and evidence demonstrating financial responsibility, this doesn’t mean that having a past or pending bankruptcy will result in a denial or suspension of your license. According to an advisory opinion issued by the Florida Attorney General, denying a license based solely on bankruptcy would conflict with the federal U.S. Bankruptcy Code’s fresh start provisions and would be prohibited under the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution. If you’re a Florida contractor and are considering filing for bankruptcy, contact Jonathan P. Cohen, P.A. to ensure the proper steps are taken to protect your license.
Get Help with License Reinstatement
If your contractor’s license has been suspended or revoked, or your application has been denied, you should get help from an experienced Florida construction lawyer at the law firm of Jonathan P. Cohen, P.A. Attorney Jonathan P. Cohen, Esq. has represented clients within the construction industry for the past two decades, including helping with licensing issues. Contact us today to request a consultation by calling (954) 462-8850.
“The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. The content in this article is presented for general informational purposes only.”