Unlicensed contracting is a problem Erin Mullen-Travis sees all too often in Charlotte County, particularly in Englewood.
The Contractor Licensing Division of Charlotte County Community Development, in conjunction with state workers’ compensation officials, recently performed a sweep for unlicensed contracting and workers’ compensation violations in the Rotonda and Boca Grande areas of Charlotte County. The sweep resulted in seven citations for unlicensed contracting, six stop-work orders for working without obtaining the required permits, and an arrest of a licensed contractor by the Workers’ Compensation Fraud Division for failure to carry workers’ compensation coverage on employees, according to a press release.
“It comes in waves,” said Mullen-Travis, licensing and code enforcement manager in Charlotte County. “We have a big problem in the Englewood area. So there’s a lot of bleed-over there because Sarasota County, North Port and Venice have difference license rules than we do. One of my staff caught one over at the islands.”
While contractors may be licensed in Sarasota County, they need to licensed in Charlotte County if they plan to work in Charlotte.
The first offense for unlicensed contracting is a misdemeanor with a $1,000 fine, and any subsequent offense is a felony with a $2,500 fine.
Mullen-Travis said the majority of violators are those working on remodeling, specifically on tile and painting.
“This year, we have 164 to date,” she said. “Last year, we had 190 total, so we’re a little up now at this point (than) we were last year.”
Sgt. Eric Burke with the Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Economic Crimes Unit said he didn’t recall any felony unlicensed contracting cases his division worked on in the last year.
“Any unlicensed contracting goes through the county, and we handle the criminal end of things,” Burke said. “There are several liability issues with an unlicensed contractor. If any get hurt on the homeowner’s property, then the homeowner is responsible, as well as any other cost related to repair and finishing it. The biggest thing we get (for complaints) is the poor workmanship and incomplete work.”
Mullen-Travis said before hiring a contractor to do work in Charlotte County, residents should call the Contractor Licensing Division to make sure the contractor is licensed and has workers’ compensation coverage.
For more information, call 941-743-1201.