Unscrupulous and Unlicensed Contractors Target Mobile Home Park Residents, Senior Citizens
Contractors Board Issues Advisory
SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) issued an advisory to residents of mobile home parks warning them that unlicensed and unscrupulous contractors often target mobile home residents, especially senior citizens, to perpetrate scams.
The CSLB recently cited A-OK Mobile Home Service for contracting without a license. The Board acted on complaints about the company, which solicited seniors in Sacramento and Stockton area mobile home parks with offers of "free safety inspections." They then illegally entered into contracts with the mobile home owners for questionable work.
Last month, the CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Team (SWIFT) caught suspected unlicensed contractors at an undercover sting in a mobile home park in Woodbridge, near Lodi. The Board issued eleven misdemeanor Notices to Appear in Municipal Court and two administrative citations to contractors who illegally bid on work ranging from landscaping to decking.
A recent undercover sting by SWIFT in San Diego resulted in nine contractors being cited for illegally contracting in a senior mobile home park. The unlicensed contractors had posted notices and placed advertisements in senior publications and on senior center bulletin boards.
Travelers, or clans of illegal contractors who move from town to town perpetrating home improvement scams, are known to target seniors in mobile home parks, including in the San Francisco Bay Area. They solicit elderly mobile home owners and convince them to agree to unnecessary roofing, painting, or siding and awning work. Some of them spray roof sealers that are useless, claim to caulk roofing vents, and perform other work that is substandard.
In Riverside County, the CSLB regularly receives complaints from senior citizens who reside in mobile home parks. The homeowners report that dishonest contractors have taken advantage of them. Contractor scams involve mobile home re-piping, heating, air conditioning, jack repairs, pad changes, and re-leveling. The contractors offer "free inspections" and use scare tactics to get the residents to agree to unnecessary, incomplete or substandard work.
The CSLB strongly advises mobile homeowners to be wary of "free" inspections and not to give "in park" directories to contractors, solicitors, or repair people. Homeowners are also urged to check a contractor's license with the CSLB and verify that the license number, business name and address match with information given by the soliciting contractor.
Anyone performing contracting work that costs $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB. To become licensed, one must verify four years of experience in their trade, pass a two-part examination, post a license bond, and provide workers' compensation insurance for employees. Anyone can check the status of a contractor's license and order free publications, including "What Seniors Should Know Before Hiring a Contractor" (Spanish Version) at www.cslb.ca.gov.
The CSLB urges all consumers to follow these tips when hiring a contractor:
- Hire only licensed contractors
- Check the license with the CSLB at www.cslb.ca.gov
- Get at least three bids and check references
- Get a written contract, and don't sign it until you understand the terms
- Don't pay more than 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- Don't pay cash and don't let the payments get ahead of the work.
The Contractors State License Board operates under the umbrella of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The CSLB licenses and regulates California's 278,000 contractors, and investigates 25,000 complaints against contractors annually.
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