Contractors Board Warns Los Angeles Area Consumers About Unlicensed Contractors
LOS ANGELES — The Contractors State License Board is warning consumers about the dangers of hiring unlicensed contractors during National Consumer Protection Week (February 2-8, 2003). The CSLB has found that the most common complaints against contractors can be avoided when consumers understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities.
A recent blitz of CSLB undercover sting operations conducted in the Los Angeles area underscored the risk of hiring unlicensed contractors. At stings in Pasadena and Oxnard on February 4 and 5, a total of 53 suspected unlicensed contractors were cited for contracting without a license.
The CSLB undercover operatives invited suspected unlicensed contractors to secret sting houses. When they bid on jobs — ranging from tilework, painting and roofing to landscaping and fencing — and were found to be unlicensed, 45 were issued Notice to Appear (NTA) misdemeanor citations and ordered to appear in municipal court. Thirty-three of the NTA's were issued to unlicensed contractors at the Oxnard sting; 12 were issued to phony contractors at the Pasadena sting. Eight received administrative citations.
By law, all contractors who perform work that totals $500 or more (labor and materials) must be licensed by the CSLB.
The CSLB has found that the most common complaints against contractors can be avoided when consumers understand and exercise their rights and responsibilities, including:
- The right to hire licensed contractors
- The right to check a contractor's license with the CSLB
- The right to pay only 10 percent or $1,000, whichever is less, as a down payment
- The right to a written contract that specifies project costs, the down payment, a payment schedule, and start and completion dates.
The CSLB urges all consumers to order the "Home Improvement Bill of Rights" and other free publications online at www.cslb.ca.gov or toll-free at (800) 321-CSLB.
A recent statewide survey revealed that a majority of homeowners do not know that by law a contractor cannot ask for more than 10 percent or $1,000 down, whichever is less. A few of the contractors who were nabbed in the last two days asked for excessive down payments.
Consumers need to be aware they have the right to negotiate a clear home improvement contract. These financial elements protect consumers in a number of important ways: the total cost of the project (labor and materials) is clearly stated, which eliminates misunderstandings about the final price, and a lawful down payment and payment schedule ensures that consumers do not pay for work or materials that have not been completed or delivered.
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.
Sign Up For News Release Email Alerts
Please type in your email below and click submit.