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southwest Florida air conditioning contractors assocIATION  

As Florida grows, so does the practice of unlicensed contracting. This practice can result in financial harm to consumers. Don’t get left holding a big bill because your contractor didn’t do things right!

Although the unlicensed contractor or servicer’s price may look attractive at first glance, there are serious pitfalls when all factors are considered. You could end up spending much more than the job was worth, and in the end, you will have no protection and little recourse.

Today’s professionally licensed air conditioning and heating contractor is controlled by Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Certification and registration are based on an examination of the contractor's level of competency. The financial stability and insurability of applicants are also reviewed by the Department.

Reasons for Avoiding Unlicensed Contractors

  • Incompetence and Lack of Training: Many unlicensed contractors are totally incompetent and lack the experience and training to do the job right. Their financial stability and longevity are questionable—will they be around in two months to warranty what they repair today?
  • Warranty Issues: Many manufacturers will not honor their limited warranties on equipment that is installed by unqualified individuals, especially if it is done incorrectly.
  • Lack of Regulation: Since unlicensed contractors have no legal existence, they are not subject to regulation by the State and therefore are not subject to disciplines that could put them out of business. They are guilty of fraud and will only be prosecuted if the evidence is substantial. Restitution is difficult when the punishment is a fine or jail time.
  • Permit and Inspection Problems: Unlicensed contractors cannot acquire permits from the local building department, consequently, your job goes uninspected for code violations that may damage your property or threaten your life.
  • Insurance Risks: Nearly all homeowner insurance policies exclude coverage for property damage or personal injury liability where the work of a tradesman is invited. Tradesmen are expected to carry Business Liability and Workers’ Compensation insurance. Most unlicensed contractors can’t purchase this protection, leaving you exposed. Imagine the unlicensed contractor getting hurt on your property and suing you!
  • Legal Consequences: According to Florida Statute 455.228, it is unlawful to employ an unlicensed contractor. Violations are punishable by up to $5,000 and/or a year in jail.

Early Warning Signs – A Contractor May Not Be Licensed If:

  • Advertisements do not include the contractor’s license number.
  • A large down payment is required before work begins.
  • There are numerous requests for money during the early phases of construction.
  • You are asked to obtain the permit.
  • You are informed that the job does not require a permit or inspection.
  • The contractor is unwilling to put all terms in writing and prefers a verbal agreement.
  • The contractor does not have proof of insurance.
  • The contractor displays only an occupational license.
  • The contractor won’t produce a copy of the Contractor's Competency Certificate.
  • The contractor prefers to work on weekends or after hours.
  • You are told to make the check payable to an individual’s name or asked to make all payments in cash.
  • There is neither a company name nor a license number on the construction vehicles.

Make sure you use an experienced, licensed professional for your air conditioning and heating needs. The small sums saved when using the unlicensed contractor are not worth the liabilities you gain. If you are unsure about a contractor’s license status, call your local building department.

SEARCH UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR DATABASE

HOW TO REPORT AN UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR

The Department of Business and Professional Regulation regulates and investigates unlicensed activity. You may file an unlicensed activity complaint by calling our unlicensed activity hotline at 1.866.532.1440 or email the department at ULA@DBPR.state.fl.us.

You may also submit a completed Uniform Complaint Form (DBPR-0070) and mail it to the address found on the form. If you need assistance with the form or want to request one, call us at 850-487-1395.

DOWNLOAD THE DBPR MOBILE APP TO AID IN REPORTING UNLICENSED ACTIVITY


CLICK HERE TO CHECK THE LICENSE STATUS OF AN A/C COMPANY

REPORT to your local sheriff / police department - contacts:

Charlotte County Sheriff's Office

Thomas "Skip" Conroy
CCSO PIO Supervisor
941-639-2101
Claudette Smith 
Public Information Officer 
941-639-2101 
Handles Community Policing and Senior Services to educate the public about fraud prevention and consumer safety.

HOW TO REPORT PERMITTING ISSUES - If you find a job that has not been properly permitted in Sarasota County please contact the following person with the property information

SARASOTA COUNTY 
Sarasota Code Enforcement
ula@scgov.net
941-861-5000

CITY OF SARASOTA
Submit online through the Citizen Portal
Email: codecompliance@sarasotafl.gov
Code Compliance Division: 941-954-4125

MANATEE COUNTY
Submit online through the Citizen Portal

Email: code.enforcement@mymanatee.org
Phone: (941) 748-2071

CITY OF VENICE 
Email: codeenforcement@venicegov.com

Jim Davis - Code Enforcement Supervisor
(941) 486-2626 ext. 7446

CITY OF BRADENTON 
Volker Reiss

Community Services and Code Compliance Manager
Phone: 941-932-9402
Email: volker.reiss@cityofbradenton.com

CITY OF NORTH PORT 
Submit online through the Citizen Portal

Email: ckozabo@cityofnorthport.com
Phone: (941) 429-7186 

LONGBOAT KEY 
Chris Elbon, Code Enforcement Officer
Phone: 941-316-1966, Ext. 2520
Email: celbon@longboatkey.org

CITY OF ANNA MARIA

Phone: 941-708-6130, ext 121 or 
Manatee County Sheriff"s Office 941-747-3011
Email: amadmin@cityofannamaria.com or depclerk@ciyofannamaria.com

CITY OF PALMETTO
Kathy Riley
Code Enforcement Officer
Email: kriley@palmettofl.org
Phone: 941-723-4580

 UNAVAILABLE:

CITY OF BRADENTON BEACH - MAIN # 941-778-1005

CITY OF HOLMES BEACH - MAIN # 941-708-5800



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Phone: 239 - 893 - 9939
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