Loophole allows contractors to work under someone else’s license, sometimes misleading consumers

Better Call Behnken

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – You know to look out for unlicensed contractors, but did you know there’s a loophole that allows some contractors to use someone else’s license?

In some cases, Better Call Behnken has discovered customers hire a contractor they think is licensed only to discover they have never taken a state licensing test themselves. And when things go poorly in these cases, it’s tougher to go after the company.

Janet Bercot found this out when she hired Jamestown Kitchens in Sarasota. She thought owner James Gerard was licensed. And his company was. But it turns out Gerard is a salesman and has never been a licensed contractor.

He had what is called a qualifier. That means that he could basically rent someone else’s license. Gerard had three qualifiers during the time he was supposed to be working on Bercot’s bathroom.

“I would have never hired the company if I knew that,” she said. “I thought James was the contractor with experience.”

The system is supposed to work for consumers because the qualifying contractor is technically on the hook for the work. In some cases, that is exactly what happens and the qualifier is very involved.

But in some cases, consumers have found that licensing boards don’t go after that person.

LINK: Where to go to check out your contractor

Follow the link above and click “verify a license.” Type in the company name or the name of the contractor. If the company has a qualifier, it will be listed under their company information.

Remember, it is not illegal to have a qualifier, and it is not always a bad thing. But it can be a red flag, and certainly something worth investigating.

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