On June 15th, 2023

CSLB Cracks Down on Unlicensed Contractors in Orange County

“These undercover operations are necessary to protect licensed contractors and also consumers who may unknowingly hire a contractor who has not passed the necessary tests and background checks to obtain a state license.” – CSLEA President Alan Barcelona

ORANGE COUNTY – On May 31 and June 1, 2023, the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) joined forces with the California Department of Insurance (CDI) to conduct an undercover operation aimed at targeting unlicensed contractors in southern Orange County.

The operation resulted in eight individuals receiving Notices to Appear in criminal court for allegedly engaging in contracting activities without the required license. Four other individuals will be referred to the Orange County District Attorney for similar violations because they provided bids after leaving the construction site. These offenders now face legal consequences, including substantial fines and potential jail time.

During the operation, in which CSLB sought bids for projects,

CSLB and law enforcement officials identified and cited eight individuals for submitting bids that exceeded the legal limit of $500. The bid amounts ranged from $7,500 to $36,000 for a painting job at the property. In accordance with California contractor state license laws, bidding and/or contracting for construction work that exceeds $500 in value requires a contractor’s license.

Engaging in contracting work without a valid license is considered a misdemeanor offense in California, carrying substantial penalties that include fines up to $15,000 and potential jail time. The unlicensed contractors apprehended in this operation may face additional charges for advertising their construction services without possessing the necessary license. According to California law, it is illegal for anyone to advertise construction or home improvement work without a valid license in the advertised classification. In instances where contracting services are advertised by unlicensed individuals, the advertisement must explicitly state their lack of licensure. Even with this disclosure, an unlicensed individual is limited to providing bids and performing work for projects valued at less than $500, inclusive of materials and labor.

During the operation, it was discovered that some of the individuals demanded excessive down payments before commencing work. Under California law, contractors are strictly limited to requesting no more than 10% of the project cost or $1,000, whichever is less. Violating this provision constitutes a misdemeanor offense, punishable by substantial fines of up to $5,000 or a potential one-year county jail sentence, or both.


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