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Homeowners in storm-affected area need to avoid unlicensed contractors

RELEASE DATE: September 21, 2007

EUSTIS — Homeowners can protect themselves by avoiding unlicensed contractors. The City of Eustis is committed to protecting its residents in the storm-affected areas from unlicensed contractor activities and scams.

Working without the proper license is against the law. Residents should be aware of what can happen if they hire an unlicensed contractor. If the work is not done to code or workmanship standards, there is no recourse against the unlicensed contractor, other than through the civil courts. Contractor license information can be located on www.lakecountyfl.gov. A Handyman is not a licensed contractor and cannot obtain building permits. To find out if an individual is properly licensed, call the Lake County Building Services Division at (352) 343-9653.

Early warning signs of an unlicensed contractor

  • A large down payment is requested before work begins.
  • Many requests for money during early phases of construction.
  • The homeowner is asked to obtain the permit.
  • Verbal contract only, the person is not willing to put all terms in writing.
  • The contractor does not have proof of insurance.
  • The contractor informs the homeowner that the job does not require a permit or inspection. (To verify if a permit is actually required, call the City of Eustis Building Department at 352-483-5462.)
  • The contractor is only willing to work on weekends or after hours.
  • Someone other than the person or company contracting to do the work obtains the permit.
  • Contractor displays only an occupational license. (An occupation license is not a license to perform contracting work.)
  • The homeowners is asked to make checks payable to an individual when the contract is with a company, or asked to make payments in cash, or to make the check payable to "cash."
  • Newspaper advertisements, flyers or yellow page advertisements where only the telephone number appears and there is not a business address.
  • License numbers are not on the vehicle, business cards, contracts, fliers, newspaper or yellow page advertisements.

The homeowner can also ask questions

  • Ask what type of license they have. The license should be issued from Lake County Building Services or the Department of Business and Professional Regulation.
  • Ask to see a copy of their license. To lawfully engage in contracting, a contractor must be either State Registered or State Certified, or Locally Licensed.
  • Ask for a copy of their liability and workman's compensation insurance. Licensed contractors must have general liability and workers compensation insurance in force at all times.

Remember an occupational license or handyman license is not a license to perform contracting work. If in doubt, call Building Services at (352) 343-9653. Contractor license information can be located on www.lakecountyfl.gov.

Homeowners who hire unlicensed contractors face several potentially costly penalties. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation can issue an order to stop construction and can levy a $5,000 fine for aiding and abetting unlicensed contractors.

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Lake County media contact:
Communications Department
Public Information Coordinator
Office: 352-343-9603; Cell: 352-455-0445
klafollette@lakecountyfl.gov

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