Complaint Process Against Unlicensed Contractors

This section talks about how CSLB addresses complaints and the procedures that CSLB follows.

Complaints involving a threat to public health and safety receive the highest priority. If CSLB is unable to settle your complaint, you may be referred to alternative dispute resolution resources.

CSLB also prioritizes complaints based on:

  • The order of receipt;
  • The nature and seriousness of the allegations;
  • Available CSLB resources, including budget and staffing

Every written complaint is reviewed to determine if it falls within CSLB's jurisdiction. CSLB's Intake and Mediation representatives will send you a written confirmation that your complaint has been received.


If the Consumer Services Representative (CSR) determines that the complaint requires further investigation, it will be assigned to an Enforcement Representative (ER). The ER's investigation will determine if there is clear and convincing evidence to support a violation of the Contractors License Law. The investigation may include interviews with you, the contractor, other parties to the contract and any other parties who can furnish relevant information.

Legal Action

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project for which the combined price of labor and materials is $500 or more. CSLB works to curtail underground economy contracting activities and reduce unlicensed activity through construction site stings, sweeps, and other enforcement actions.

In a complaint involving an unlicensed contractor, CSLB may issue a warning letter, a citation, or refer the complaint to the local district attorney for review and possible prosecution. CSLB has limited jurisdiction over unlicensed persons and cannot require an unlicensed person to make repairs to your project or pay restitution.

Small Claims Court

Investigation by CSLB does not guarantee restitution to complainants. If your primary interest is to gain restitution, you should pursue the matter in small claims court or consult with an attorney. If you are considering legal action to recover damages of $10,000 or less, CSLB can provide you with information about filing a small claims court action, or you can consult the clerk of the small claims court for information and assistance. Additional "self help" information can be found online at If your damages are more than $10,000, you should consult with an attorney.