Curb Unlicensed Activity
SNN Report featuring Gulf Coast Builders Exchange
What is Unlicensed Activity?
Unlicensed activity is when an individual or business performs or offers to perform a job or service that requires a state license. Unlicensed activity can occur in every profession and business that is licensed by the DBPR.
Unlicensed activity threatens the financial and personal safety of consumers, as well as the livelihood of state-licensed professionals. Unlicensed individuals often underbid licensed professionals, but they do not carry workers’ compensation or liability insurance. Consumers can pay dearly with little recourse when working with unlicensed individuals.
Florida DBPR can help you learn more how to protect yourself. Visit their website to educate yourself on verifying licenses, choosing contractors, filing complaints, etc.
Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation
Verify a License
Know what services require a DBPR license
Choosing a Contractor
- Before you hire a contractor, ask to see a state-issued license.
- Be sure the license looks like the example to the lower left of this page. Ask to see multiple forms of identification.
- An occupational license does not qualify an individual to act as a contractor. It's really just a "tax revenue receipt."
- Being registered with the Division of Corporations as in INC. or LLC., does not qualify an individual or company to act as a contractor. The individual must be licensed by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
- Ask for references. A legitimate contractor will be happy to provide you with the names and contact information of recent customers.
- Get a written estimate from several licensed contractors. Make sure the estimate includes the work the contractor will do, the materials involved, the completion date, and total cost.
- Beware of contractors who claim to be the fastest or the cheapest. Hiring them could result in poor workmanship, inferior materials or unfinished jobs.
- Contact your insurance agent first to verify your insurance covers the repairs before you sign a contract. Know the steps to file a claim. You do not have to tell the contractor how much your insurance company will pay for repairs, but if you do, get the contractor’s estimate first.
- A contractor must have a license from DBPR to perform roofing repairs or replacements, structural additions, air conditioning repair or replacement, plumbing work, electrical and/or alarm work. These jobs typically require a permit. Be sure to check with your local building department regarding permit requirements for all of your projects.
- DBPR does not license or have jurisdiction over concrete contractors, painters, drywall contractors, cabinetmakers, tile installers, or anyone doing minor repairs. Check with your local building department regarding licensure requirements for these trades. Remember to ask for references.
Red flags your “Contractor”may not be licensed or insured
The Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation encourages homeowners to beware of unlicensed and unscrupulous persons posing as licensed and insured contractors on the internet.
- No license number in advertisement or posting. Licensed contractors are required to list their license number in all advertisements. Rule of thumb: If they don’t have a license listed in their advertisement, which can be verified; move on to the next one.
- They list only their name and a cell phone number in their advertisement or posting. Do you really want to invite some stranger into your home that you contacted from an anonymous internet site or classified advertisement?
- They claim to be “licensed and insured” but can only produce an “occupational license,” or corporate filing. An “Occupational License” is not a license. It just means that the person has paid a tax receipt to the local municipality. Most local and county governments have stopped using this term as it is misleading and is often used to dupe unsuspecting home owners. Also, just because a company is listed a corporation does not mean they have the professional license to do your job. Professionals properly licensed by the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation are proud to show you both their department issued license and proof of insurance. Be sure to note the license number and verify the license (link to verify a license) is current and issued to the company or person you want to hire. You can also contact us at 850.487.1395.
- They want all or most of the money up front or will only accept cash. Run, don’t walk. Never pay cash for your home repairs or improvements.
- They want you to write the check to them individually or to “cash.” Be cautious of writing checks made payable to individuals, especially when dealing with a company.
- They show up in unmarked vehicles offering to do work, and often have out-of-state tags. Known as “trunk slammers” these are often the “hit and run” of the unlicensed contractors. Once they have your money, they slam the trunk shut and hit the road.
- They don’t want to put the work agreement in writing. Licensed contractors know it's good business to put everything in writing, including a detailed description of the work to be completed, a completion date and the total cost.
- They try to convince you a permit is not necessary or that it’s cheaper if you obtain it yourself. Licensed contractors know that most improvements to the home require a permit and welcome the permit and inspection process to verify the work was done to code. Contact your local building department if you are not sure the work you are having done requires permitting and inspections. This is for your own safety and may be required as part of future insurance claims.
Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation