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Advertising as a Contractor without a License

Section 489.127 describes the prohibitions and penalties for engaging in unlawful actions by acting in the capacity of a contractor under Chapter 489 for REGULATION OF PROFESSIONS AND OCCUPATIONS.

Section 489.127(1) prohibits any person from doing any of the following:

(a) Falsely hold himself or herself or a business organization out as a licensee, certificate holder, or registrant;
(b) Falsely impersonate a certificate holder or registrant;
(c) Present as his or her own the certificate or registration of another;
(d) Knowingly give false or forged evidence to the board or a member thereof;
(e) Use or attempt to use a certificate or registration that has been suspended or revoked;
(f) Engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor or advertise himself or herself or a business organization as available to engage in the business or act in the capacity of a contractor without being duly registered or certified;
(g) Operate a business organization engaged in contracting after 60 days following the termination of its only qualifying agent without designating another primary qualifying agent, except as provided in ss. 489.119 and 489.1195;
(h) Commence or perform work for which a building permit is required pursuant to part IV of chapter 553 without such building permit being in effect; or
(i) Willfully or deliberately disregard or violate any municipal or county ordinance relating to uncertified or unregistered contractors.

Unlicensed Contractor with an Inactive or Suspended Certificate or Registration

For purposes of Section 489.127 violations, a person or business organization operating on an inactive or suspended certificate or registration is not duly certified or registered and is considered unlicensed. A business tax receipt issued under the authority of chapter 205 is not a license for purposes of this part.

Penalties for Unlawful Actions as an Unlicensed Contractor

The penalties for violations of Section 489.127(1) are explained in subsection (2) which provides:

(a) Any unlicensed person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (1) commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(b) Any unlicensed person who commits a violation of subsection (1) after having been previously found guilty of such violation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(c) Any unlicensed person who commits a violation of subsection (1) during the existence of a state of emergency declared by executive order of the Governor commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(d) Any person who operates as a pollutant storage systems contractor, precision tank tester, or internal pollutant storage tank lining applicator in violation of subsection (1) commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
The remedies set forth in this subsection are not exclusive and may be imposed in addition to the remedies set forth in s. 489.129(2).

Stop-work Order for Unlicensed Work

Under Section 489.127(3), the department may issue a stop-work order for all unlicensed work on a project upon finding probable cause to believe that construction work which requires certification or registration is being performed without a current, valid certificate or registration. Stop-work orders may be enforced using any cease and desist or other related action by the department as set forth in s. 455.228.

Using Another Contractor’s Certification or Registation Number

Section 489.127(4)(a) prohibits a certified or registered contractor, or contractor authorized by a local construction regulation board to do contracting, from “entering into an agreement, oral or written, whereby his or her certification number or registration number is used, or to be used, by a person who” is not certified or registered as provided for in chapter 489, or used, or to be used, by a business organization that is not duly qualified as provided for in this chapter to engage in the business, or act in the capacity, of a contractor.

Section 489.127(4)(b) prohibits a certified or registered contractor, or contractor authorized by a local construction regulation board to do contracting, from “knowingly allowing his or her certification number or registration number to be used” by a person who is not certified or registered as provided for in this chapter, or used by a business organization that is not qualified as provided for in this chapter to engage in the business, or act in the capacity of, a contractor.

Section 489.127(4)(c) prohibits a certified or registered contractor, or contractor authorized by a local construction regulation board to do contracting, from “applying for or obtain a building permit for construction work” unless the certified or registered contractor, or contractor authorized by a local construction regulation board to do contracting, or business organization duly qualified by said contractor, has entered into a contract to make improvements to, or perform the contracting at, the real property specified in the application or permit.

Keep in mind that Section 489.127(4) violations do not prohibit a contractor from applying for or obtaining a building permit to allow the contractor to perform work for another person “without compensation or to perform work on property that is owned by the contractor.”

The penalties for a Section 489.127(4) are explained in subsection (d) as follows:

1. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
2. A person who violates this subsection after having been previously found guilty of such violation commits a felony of the third degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

Civil Penalty Code Enforcement Citations

Under Section 489.127(5), each county or municipality may, at its option, designate one or more of its code enforcement officers, as defined in chapter 162, to enforce, as set out in this subsection, the provisions of subsection (1) and s. 489.132(1) against persons who engage in activity for which a county or municipal certificate of competency or license or state certification or registration is required.

A code enforcement officer designated pursuant to this subsection may issue a citation for any violation of subsection (1) or s. 489.132(1) whenever, based upon personal investigation, the code enforcement officer has reasonable and probable grounds to believe that such a violation has occurred.

Under subsection (5)(m), the willful refuses to sign and accept a citation issued by a code enforcement officer is a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

If you received a citation issued by a code enforcement officer, we can help you contest the citation. For most violations, the maximum civil penalty which may be levied may not exceed $2,000. After you are served with the citation, you must cease the work that allegedly caused the citation.

You only have 10 days of receipt of the citation, exclusive of weekends and legal holidays, to request an administrative hearing before the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate to appeal the issuance of the citation by the code enforcement officer.

Administrative Hearings on Code Enforcement Citations

Hearings on code enforcement citations shall be held before an enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate as established by s. 162.03(2), and such hearings shall be conducted pursuant to the requirements of ss. 162.07 and 162.08.

Failure of a violator to appeal the decision of the code enforcement officer within the time period set forth in this paragraph shall constitute a waiver of the violator’s right to an administrative hearing. A waiver of the right to an administrative hearing shall be deemed an admission of the violation, and penalties may be imposed accordingly.

If the person issued the citation, or his or her designated representative, shows that the citation is invalid or that the violation has been corrected prior to appearing before the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate, the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate may dismiss the citation unless the violation is irreparable or irreversible.

Each day a willful, knowing violation continues shall constitute a separate offense under the provisions of this subsection.

A person cited for a violation pursuant to this subsection is deemed to be charged with a noncriminal infraction.

If the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate finds that a violation exists, the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate may order the violator to pay a civil penalty of not less than the amount set forth on the citation but not more than $2,500 per day for each violation. In determining the amount of the penalty, the enforcement or licensing board or designated special magistrate shall consider the following factors:
1. The gravity of the violation.
2. Any actions taken by the violator to correct the violation.
3. Any previous violations committed by the violator.

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