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Hiring Unlicensed Contractors Could Lead to Trouble

By: Jeff Lieser Posted on: Thursday, December 17th, 2015 Handsome Hispanic engineer doing some design work and remodeling a house

It’s tempting to hire an unlicensed contractor.  Their services are low cost, and you are not even legally obligated to pay them.  In Florida, unlicensed contracting can be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the facts.  Consequently, unlicensed contractors generally possess no contract or lien rights.

On the other hand, you have the right to enforce the contract against the unlicensed contractor.  The contractor and the surety (if there is one) are liable for poor workmanship or incomplete work.  This is true even if you knew the contractor was not licensed before you entered into the contract.  See Earth Trades v. T&G Corp., 108 So. 3d 580 (Fla. 2013).

So what are some of the negatives of hiring an unlicensed contractor?

  • It’s illegal to knowingly hire an unlicensed contractor.  If the state learns that an unlicensed contractor is doing work for you, it may issue a cease and desist notice requiring you to stop the work, resulting in construction delay costs.  You could face fines up to $5,000, and if you are a licensed contractor hiring an unlicensed subcontractor, your license to do business may become suspended or revoked.
  • You are responsible for any damages and worker injuries occurring during the project inasmuch as unlicensed contractors often lack general liability and workers’ compensation insurance.
  • The work of an unlicensed contractor is often shoddy, requiring you to hire a licensed contractor to make the repairs.  You could wind up paying more money for the job than if you had hired a licensed contractor in the first place.

You should think twice before doing business with an unlicensed contractor.  If the state is investigating you for hiring an unlicensed contractor, or you have a contract dispute with an unlicensed contractor, contact the experienced Tampa construction law attorneys at Lieser Skaff Alexander to discuss your options.