MANATEE -- Fourteen local laborers were charged with unlicensed contracting earlier this month as part of a sting aimed at cracking down on unlicensed contractors, according to a Manatee County government news release.
Working with the Manatee County Building and Development Services Department and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Manatee County sheriff's deputies on Feb. 15 and 16 arrested 14 people who were attempting contract work without proper licenses.
Each man had submitted a proposal to undercover investigators for construction work that required a contractor’s license they didn’t have, according to the county.
The suspects were issued an unlicensed construction citation and they were charged with a misdemeanor and issued a notice to appear in court. The DBPR also issued cease and desist orders to each man.
Hiring unlicensed workers has become a serious problem during the economic downturn, and could bring trouble for homeowners.
Unlicensed contract work has become a serious problem during the economic downturn as many homeowners turn to the least expensive option available, according to John Barnott, director of Manatee County Building and Development Services Department.
Hiring an unlicensed contractor often leads to serious headaches for a homeowner. Unlicensed contractors can perform unsafe or shoddy work, and when it’s time to sell a home, the seller may not be able to close the title with home improvements that were never permitted.
“We will continue to crack down, not only with the contractors but with the property owners who knowingly hire them,” said John Barnott, director of the county building department. “I want to send a clear message to all the unlicensed activity going on out there: We’re coming after you. Unlicensed contractors can create a lot of problems for homeowners including everything from inferior work to not having proper insurance.”
Homeowners may find a comprehensive list of licensed contractors with the Manatee County Chamber of Commerce, the Gulf Coast Builders Exchange, the Home Builders Association of Manatee County or Manatee County Building and Development Services Department. Additionally, consumers can verify professional licenses through the DBPR’s website at www.myfloridalicense.com.
To report unlicensed building activity, call Manatee County Building Department (941) 749-3047, email complaints to ULA@dbpr.state.fl.us or call the DBPR unlicensed activity hotline at 1-866-532-1440.
To learn more about Florida’s building codes or to apply for a permit, visit the Building and Development Services area of mymanatee.org
Those cited for unlicensed contracting work are: Eugene Rizzo, Michael Szjbut, Martin Rodriguez-Estrada, Joseph Ambrosino, Jose Rivera, Patrick Merchant, William Luff, Raymond Robinson, Jr., Matthew Wheatley, Lawrence Slipko, David Moore, James Reese, Timothy Gretsinger and Travis Hall.