If you are a licensed California contractor and have had a consumer complaint lodged against you or you are under investigation by the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) for the state of California, you should contact our law offices immediately. These actions by the Board initiate a legal process which can impact your professional license, your right to practice your profession, your livelihood and your career as a contractor.
Complaints Against Contractors: Mediation
When a complaint is lodged against you from a customer, you as a contractor licensee in California, within 2-3 weeks, will receive a threatening letter from a Consumer Services Representative at the CSLB. You will be offered the opportunity to “mediate” your dispute. It is important to note that the degree of dissatisfaction expressed by the customer will determine the degree with which the CSLB representative will offer to see both sides. You and the complainant will be encouraged to work out your differences. Be prepared to complete the job expeditiously to the customer’s satisfaction or to give money back.
Investigations About Disputes with Contractors
An investigation can be launched for a number of different reasons, for example, a customer can refuse to “mediate’ and insist that they receive a refund based on replacing the contractor. Be aware that the customer will be making a claim for “damages” which will include (and not be limited to) the increased cost of the new contractor and any out of pocket expenses for the unresolved work orders. In the event that a complaint cannot be resolved at the investigative stage, the customer can request or the investigator can insist that the case move forward to arbitritration and/or that the matter will be forwarded to an enforcement representative for further action.
If early mediation or arbitration fails and the complaint involves a probable case of a Contractor’s License Law violation, your case will be referred to an Investigative Center. The IC’s investigating representative (ER) will interview you, the complainant(s) and any other relevant parties necessary. At the conclusion of the ER’s investigation, several outcomes are possible:
- Closing the complaint file because the matter has been resolved
- Closing the complaint file because of lack of evidence or a finding of no violation
- Referral to CSLB-sponsored arbitration
- Issuance of a warning letter
- Issuance of a citation by the Investigative Center
- Filing of an Accusation (which may lead to suspension or revocation of the license)
- Filing of criminal charges
- Filing of a petition for an injunction
If a citation is issued to you, this may include a civil penalty up to $2000 and/or an order of restitution to pay the financially injured party. If you are issued a citation and do not comply with the terms and conditions, your California contractor’s license will be automatically suspended. If at the end of ninety (90) days the citation is still not complied with, your license will be automatically revoked.
If you receive a Citation or Notice of an Accusation, you need to contact an experienced attorney immediately. If an accusation is filed, you are now forced to engage in a legal proceeding. Self-representation is not advised. The state licensing board will utilize the services of an “expert witness” who will explain to the administrative law judge all of the “errors” and if you lose this action, your contractor’s license may be SUSPENDED or REVOKED.
If the California State Contractors Licensing Board suspends your license, you will be impacted immediately. If you engage in work at such a time when your contractor license is suspended or revoked, you will be subjecting yourself to criminal prosecution. If you have received a criminal citation for working as “an unlicensed or contractor with a suspended license” you should immediately contact an experienced attorney who can both represent you in both criminal court and with the state Contractor Licensing Board.
If your contractor license has been suspended, and you perform unauthorized work as a contractor during this period, your suspension can be upgraded to a revocation. If your contractor’s license has been revoked, you will not be allowed to even apply for reinstatement of your license for a period no less than one year and possibly for as long as five years.
Contractor’s License Reinstatement
When you are ready to apply for reinstatement or reissuance of your license, you should do so only with the assistance of an experienced licensing attorney. You will be required to provide proof that you have complied with the registrar’s decision that resulted from the Accusation. You will be required to provide proof of Rehabilitation, a legal term that only an experienced licensing attorney will be able to accurately define for you such that you will be able to provide the appropriate evidence and proof. You will also be required to post a license bond and a disciplinary bond in an amount determined by the Registrar for at least two (2) years. A disciplinary bond may be as low as $15,000 or as high as $100,000. These bonds can be expensive and difficult to obtain.
Denials of Contractor License Applications
If a contractor licensee applies for his/her contractor’s license, and the application is later DENIED by the CSLB, person has ONLY 60 days from the date of the issued letter of denial to request a hearing to APPEAL this decision. Obtaining the professional assistance of an experienced attorney is essential in this situation.
A denied licensee, if they submit a timely appeal, they will receive a “Statement of Issues”. It is possible to overcome the denial with an experienced attorney. The case will proceed to an Administrative Hearing.
If you are applying for a California contractor’s license and have prior criminal convictions or you have been denied your California’s contractor’s license, you should contact our law offices immediately. Our team at Lucy McAllister Licensing Law is experienced in both licensing law and criminal law with expertise handling these types of cases and effectively representing you with the CSLB.