Get Help from a Fort Lauderdale Building Permit Attorney
Under Florida law, construction contractors must be licensed to perform work and secure permits. It is illegal for a company to perform work under another company’s license when the licensed company has not qualified the business to perform work under its license and does not supervise the job. Similarly, licensed contractors are prohibited from renting out their licenses to unlicensed contractors to allow them to perform work and secure Fort Lauderdale building permits. Only licensed contractors can sign contracts to provide construction services. Fort Lauderdale construction lawyer Jonathan P. Cohen represents individuals and businesses that have been victimized by unlicensed contractors. A recent case demonstrates the problems that can arise when an unlicensed contractor uses another business’s license to secure a contract.
Unlicensed contractors fraudulently used another company’s license
A Broward County homeowner needed to have two windows installed in her screened enclosure. She hired two men from Bruna Enclosures to perform the work. The men told her that she did not need to get a permit to install the windows. After the windows were installed, the woman received a summons from the city because she didn’t get a permit before having the windows installed. The homeowner asked for a refund for the money she spent, but Bruna Enclosures refused.
According to Broward County records, the Class A General Builder license number that Bruna Enclosures has listed on its door expired in 2008. That license was issued in the name of the previous owner who died in May 2014. On the advertisement the company used to solicit business, a different company’s license number was listed with a zero added to the end. It also included a partial name for the company under which the license number was issued. However, that company, the AMD Group Inc., a Design-Build Firm stated that it was shocking that another company would use part of its name and its license number to get business and denied knowing anything about Bruna Enclosures or the two men involved.
The Department of Business and Professional Regulation also stated that it did not have any record of the owner of AMD Group qualifying Bruna Enclosures to perform services under his license. The state also said that it was opening a case against Bruna Enclosures for unlicensed activities.
When homeowners hire contractors to perform work, they should check the license number provided to them and see if any complaints have been filed. The party that signs the contract must be the entity that is licensed by the state.
Impermissible permit pulling is illegal
Under § 489.127(4), Fla. Stat. (2021), it is illegal for licensed contractors to rent out their licenses to unlicensed contractors. If an unlicensed contractor will be used to perform work, the licensed contractor must first go through the process with the state to qualify the unlicensed contractor, and the licensed contractor must supervise any work performed. Only licensed contractors can sign contracts and pull Fort Lauderdale building permits for jobs.
If a licensed contractor pulls a permit for an unlicensed contractor to perform work, it is a misdemeanor for the first offense. A subsequent offense is chargeable as a third-degree felony, and the licensed contractor could also face discipline from the Construction Industry Licensing Board, including the possible loss of the license, a fine of up to $10,000, and restitution to the property owner for any losses incurred.
Section 489.127 prohibits all of the following activities by licensed contractors:
- Entering into an oral or written agreement to allow an unlicensed contractor to use the licensed contractor’s registration or certification number to perform work when the unlicensed contractor has not been qualified
- Knowingly allowing his or her registration or certification number to be used by an unlicensed contractor or an unqualified business to perform work
- Applying for or securing a permit for work for which the licensed contractor has not entered into a contract with the property owner so that an unqualified business or unlicensed contractor can perform work on real property
Contractors should never allow an unlicensed person to use their license numbers unless they have gone through the process to qualify them with the state. If a company learns that an unlicensed individual or unqualified business has been using its license number to secure contracts to provide construction services, it needs to act quickly.
What contractors should do if they learn others are using their license numbers
If a licensed contractor learns that another company is using its license number and/or name in its advertisements to solicit work, there are several steps the contractor should take. It should report the company to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation and issue a cease and desist order to the party or parties that have been using the license number or name without consent.
Licensed contractors should also contact the local building department to find out whether the unlicensed contractor or unqualified business has applied for building permits with their license numbers and file unlicensed activity complaints with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation against the unlicensed contractor or unqualified business. The DBPR can issue a stop-work order for any unlicensed work being performed on a project.
If a contractor is approached by a property owner and asked to apply for a permit for work that an unlicensed contractor has entered into a contract for, the contractor can either go through the qualification process to become the unlicensed contractor’s qualifying agent before applying for the permit and supervise his or her work, or tell the owner to cancel the contract he or she signed with the unlicensed contractor and instead contract with the licensed contractor.
Get help from a Fort Lauderdale construction lawyer
If you are a licensed contractor and have learned that an unqualified company has been using your license number or name to secure business, you should get help as soon as possible. The potential sanctions that you could face if you allow the unlicensed party to continue using your license are severe. Attorney Jonathan P. Cohen is experienced in construction law and has handled similar legal issues. Contact the Law Office of Jonathan P. Cohen, P.A. to request a consultation at (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.