What are the Penalties for Hiring an Unlicensed Contractor?

General contractors, whether people or companies, takes on projects that deal with construction.  Hiring a general contractor can be stressful because you want to budget your money but also be assured that the job is done right without any issues.  Sometimes people opt into hiring unlicensed contractors, which is a very bad idea.  Unlicensed contractors may lead a person to pay penalties and possibly even jail time.

What is Unlicensed Contracting in Florida?

Under Florida law, it is an offense to contract without a license.  There are actually 9 different ways a person can be subject to an offense for contracting without a license under Florida Statute 489.127: “No person shall (a) falsely hold himself or herself or a business organization out as a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant; (b) falsely impersonate a certificate holder or registrant; (c) present as his or her own the certificate or registration of another; (d) knowingly give false or forged evidence to the board or as member thereof; (e) use or attempt to use a certificate or registration that has been suspended or revoked; (f) engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or advertise himself or herself of a business organization as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified; (g) operate a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent without designating another primary qualifying agent, except as provided in Florida Statute 489.119 and 489.1195; (h) commence or perform work for which a building permit is required pursuant to part IV of chapter 533 without such building permit being in effect; or (i) willfully or deliberately disregard or violate any municipal or county ordinance relating to uncertified or unregistered contractors.”

What is the Penalty for Contracting Without a License in Florida?

Contracting without a license will put you at risk to penalties, such as a misdemeanor charge.  A first-time misdemeanor charge of this nature can carry a potential sentence up to 1 year in jail or 12 months of probation, and a $1,000.00 fine.  However, a second-time offender may be charged with a third-degree felony, with penalties up to 5 years in prison or 5 years of probation, and a $5,000 fine.  Additionally, many persons guilty of contracting without a license are subject to court-ordered restitution, which occurs when a person claims that the defendant did not adequately perform the work done and used sub-standard materials which caused the alleged-victims a loss.  The alleged loss can be thousands of dollars that the defendant will have to pay in a timely manner.  If the defendant fails to pay the restitution or fails to pay in a timely manner, the defendant can be held in contempt of court.

How to Become a Licensed Contractor in Florida?

To become a licensed contractor in Florida, you must go through the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (“Board”).  The Board offers different types of contractor licenses such as, a certified license and a registered license, which may differ in requirements needed.  A certified license allows the contractor work anywhere in Florida.  A registered license, allows the contractor to work in certain local jurisdictions only.  Generally, however, applicants must be over the age of 18, show proof of financial solvency (including a credit score), submit a copy or scan of their fingerprints, proof of general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, pass the Florida State Construction Examination, submit the application, and pay the application and licensing fees.

EPGD Business Law is located in beautiful Coral Gables, West Palm Beach and historic Washington D.C. Call us at (786) 837-6787, or contact us through the website to schedule a consultation.

*Disclaimer: this blog post is not intended to be legal advice. We highly recommend speaking to an attorney if you have any legal concerns. Contacting us through our website does not establish an attorney-client relationship.*

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Eric Gros-Dubois

Eric P. Gros-Dubois founded EPGD Business Law in 2013 and is the current head of the firm’s corporate, estate planning, and tax practice, and manages the firm’s Washington D.C. office. With a JD and MBA, and a specialization in finance, Eric is able to step back and view the legal world through a commercial lens while also acting as a trusted business advisor for his clients. He does his best to be solutions oriented, and tries to think like a business owner, not just a lawyer.


*The following comments are not intended to be treated as legal advice. The answer to your question is limited to the basic facts presented. Additional details may heavily alter our assessment and change the answer provided. For a more thorough review of your question please contact our office for a consultation.

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