Crackdown on unlicensed contractors

July 16, 2012 2:28:37 PM PDT
A crackdown is underway on one of the most biggest industries, affecting just about everyone who owns an apartment or house: home contractors.

Investigators say one out of every 5 home contractors in New York City is operating without a license. And now those contractors are getting busted.

In one case, an unlicensed contractor received more than $200,000 from Brooklyn homeowners who accuse him of never starting or failing to finish jobs.

72 vehicles belonging to unlicensed contractors allegedly caught in the act were recently seized in a 2 month targeted sweep conducted by New York City's Department of Affairs.

"We are literally canvassing neighborhoods, pulling aside anyone we see doing work and making sure they are literally licensed,' NYC DCA Commissioner Jonathan Mintz said.

Commissioner Mintz says aggressive enforcement in Staten Island and Queens, where consumer complaints are the highest, found 1 in 5 home improvement contractors were operating without a license.

"We bring them in get them licensed and with some of them we know they've been leaving the consumer high and dry," Mintz said.

If contractors found guility of unsafe workmanship, excessive expenses and unfinished work want their trucks back, they must first pay fines, get licensed and pay back customers.

"If the complaint is about work, we get them to go back to the home. If it's about a contract, we try to cancel the contract," a mediator said.

To avoid problems like these always use licensed contractors. They've had background checks and pay into a trust fund which gives a consumer up to $20,000 in restitution if something goes wrong. Unlicensed contractors will get caught.

"If you don't (get licensed), we will find you and we will hold your vehicle accountable," Mintz said.

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