Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Contractors working without a proper license is just plumb wrong!

Every professional mechanical trade that performs work on your home or buisness must be licensed through the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Employment. You can check before you hire.

But not everyone checks. The owner may check, later, only when the job remains incomplete, is done poorly, or there is a dispute over payment.

The Baltimore Sun reported that one unlicensed plumber must create a $250,000 fund for the benefit of defrauded homeowners.  The plumber worked without licensed employees, and charged for items of work and permits that were not provided. And this is the correct result.

Maryland law empowers the homeowner when confronted with the unlicensed plumber. For instance:
  • The unlicensed plumber may not maintain a lawsuit to recover amounts due under your contract.
  • The unlicensed plumber may not obtain a mechanic's lien on your real property (your house or business!).
  • The unlicensed plumber can be barred from future work.
  • The unlicensed plumber can be ordered to refund money paid by you.

These laws are powerful tools, in the hands of reasonably skilled lawyers. Over the last year, for example, we helped a client defeat a $175,000 mechanic's lien claim on the basis that the plumber was not licensed at the time, and because the actual work was done by unlicensed helpers.

And these tools can be used against other trades and contractors, too. In another case handled by this office, an  unlicensed contractor sued for a mechanic's lien of more than $200,000 for renovation work on a large home in Baltimore County. The contractor was not properly licensed by the State of Maryland when the work was contracted or performed. We beat the case on a pretrial motion that allowed our client to keep the full value of the work (subject to costs of correction), while the contractor took nothing.

Powerful tools, indeed!

Are you having trouble with a contractor or tradesman?  Is the work late, sloppy or missing? Is your contractor licensed by the State of Maryland?  Have you been sued for breach of contract, or for a mechanic's lien?  Visit us.