Every state, including the state of Florida, maintains strict licensing requirements for contractors. As both a contractor and handyman in Florida, it is important that you understand those requirements so you can avoid costly consequences.
Engaging in construction or remodeling work without the proper licensure is a serious offense in the Sunshine State. It can result in steep penalties and fines, the forfeiture of your legal rights, and possibly jail time. Levelset explores the penalties for engaging in unlicensed contractor work more in-depth.
Criminal consequences for engaging in unlicensed contract work
Engaging in unlicensed contract work in Florida is a criminal offense. If an offense is your first, the state may charge you with a first-degree misdemeanor. If convicted, you face up to one year of probation or possibly jail time. Subsequent offenses can result in third-degree felony charges, which carry a term of imprisonment or period of probation of up to five years, and fines of up to $10,000. You may also face third-degree felony charges if you perform unlicensed contract work during a declared state of emergency.
Civil consequences for engaging in unlicensed contract work
In addition to facing criminal charges, you may lose your rights to payment as well. The law considers any contract that involves an unlicensed party and work that requires licensure as automatically unenforceable. What this means is that, if you perform work and then do not receive payment for it, you have no legal means of recovery. Moreover, any bond claims or lien rights you thought you had may disappear.
That is not all. If you do receive payment for your work and then the homeowner later decides to sue you for faulty or defective work, the courts will likely order you to pay treble damages, which is a legal term meaning triple the amount of damages. On top of the triple damages, the courts will also likely order you to repay the homeowner what they already paid you.
Engaging in unlicensed contract work can result in serious consequences. For these reasons, it is important to brush up on licensure requirements every year or so and ensure you are always up to date.