February 2018 Edition
Protecting your business after Irma
Unlicensed contractors have run rampant through Florida since the devastation of Hurricane Irma ripped through the state last September. Estimates are into the hundreds of those arrested for practicing without a valid Florida license or certification.
Whether the individuals are drawn to easy access to work because there was so much of the work, or believed they were helping rebuild a state in shambles is of no difference to the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. One’s motive behind acting as a contractor or certified professional without a license was irrelevant, and the state hit back hard with many arrests.
Sections 489.13 and 489.127 of the Florida Statutes state that any person performing any activity that requires a valid license as a construction contractor without such license is subject to a hefty fine and commits a felony, subject to punishment under sections 775.082 and 775.083 of the Crimes Chapter of the Florida Statutes, which provided the authority for the arrests.
Governor Rick Scott gave legitimately licensed and certified contractors a reprieve from many of the burdensome regulations found in the Florida Statutes and the Florida Building Code when he signed Executor Order 17.235 on September 5, 2017. The Order primarily allowed contractors to swiftly get roofs back on homes and buildings with less red tape than under normal circumstances. Key to the Order was allowing certified, registered, general, building or residential contractors to do flat roofing or roofing with wood shakes, asphalt or fiberglass shingles, tiles and metals without subcontracting the job. The Order authorized any state agency to “suspend the provisions of any regulatory statute if strict compliance with that statute would in any way prevent, hinder, or delay necessary action in coping with this emergency.”
But the Governor and the DBPR never intended to allow unlicensed individuals to hold him or herself out as a licensed contractor. If you’re seeing unlicensed persons performing regulated services, don’t hesitate to report it to the DBPR, and be careful when subcontracting out work. You’re probably very busy helping rebuild, but don’t throw caution to the wind. The wind has already done enough damage.