Minnesota part of national enforcement effort to uncover unlicensed contractor activity
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) participated with the National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) in a national coordinated enforcement effort the weeks of June 7 through 25, which included eight NASCLA state members that took part in this event across the country.
In addition to their regular casework, investigators with DLI's Construction Codes and Licensing Division's Enforcement unit devoted time each day to search various online platforms for unlicensed residential building contractors offering services for which licensure is required. Many of the consumer complaints DLI receives relating to unlicensed contractors are from homeowners who found their contractor on websites such as Craigslist, Facebook, Home Advisor, Neighborhood and Thumbtack.
During the period of the coordinated effort, DLI investigators identified 56 unlicensed contractors and have, so far, opened 28 formal cases that are now being investigated for possible enforcement action. However, in many cases the contractor provides only a first name and phone number, which makes identifying them difficult for enforcement purposes and points out the danger these unlicensed individuals pose to homeowners, who should always get a contractor’s full name and address and check their state license status before considering hiring them.
DLI has authority to issue administrative orders requiring unlicensed contractors to cease and desist from unlicensed activity and can impose monetary penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. Unlicensed activity in violation of a DLI Order is a gross misdemeanor and can result in criminal prosecution. In one case, a DLI investigator discovered an unlicensed contractor who posted TikTok videos of himself performing work that requires licensure. DLI had already ordered this contractor to cease and desist from unlicensed activity and fined him earlier this year, so he now faces heavier fines and possible criminal prosecution.
DLI is also currently engaged in a statewide consumer education campaign to inform homeowners of the advantages of hiring licensed contractors as well as the potential dangers involved in hiring unlicensed contractors.
"Minnesota homeowners are able to obtain compensation from the Contractor Recovery Fund if they suffer a loss as a result of a contractor's failure to perform," said DLI Commissioner Roslyn Robertson, "but only if the contractor they hire is licensed."
Consumers can find more information about the Contractor Recovery Fund and tips about hiring a contractor, including an online license lookup tool, on DLI's website at www.hirelicensedmn.com.