Are you a residential or commercial pool and spa contractor who’s received an Administrative Complaint from the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR)? Are you concerned about what to do next and anxious about the future of the pool and spa contracting career you’ve worked so hard to build? In Orlando, a complaint against a pool and spa contractor, or any other licensed professional, can result in severe consequences that include fines, restriction of services, remedial education, and – at the very worst – a suspension or revocation of your professional Florida license.
Losing your Florida pool and spa contractor license can limit your ability to earn a living and provide for your family. No matter how trivial a complaint might seem, they should always be responded to adequately. If you’re a pool contractor facing a formal complaint, it’s perfectly normal to feel worried and upset. Remember, it’s critical that you take action and respond to the complaint with qualified and skilled legal counsel as soon as possible.
Residential and commercial pool and spa contractors are responsible for designing, building, and repairing swimming pools and spas used in either homes and buildings. Consumers depend on their expertise to design actual pool or spa systems and the equipment to maintain the pool and the safety devices to protect anyone who uses it. In Florida, where pools stay open through much of the year, trusted pool and spa professionals are highly valued.
According to Florida Statute 489.105(k), residential pool/spa contractors are described as:
“…A contractor whose scope of work involves… the construction, repair, and servicing of a residential swimming pool, or hot tub or spa, regardless of use. The scope of work includes the installation, repair, or replacement of existing equipment, any cleaning or equipment sanitizing that requires at least a partial disassembling, excluding filter changes, and the installation of new pool/spa equipment, interior finishes, the installation of package pool heaters, the installation of all perimeter piping and filter piping, and the construction of equipment rooms or housing for pool/spa equipment…”
Pool and spa contractors must have a legitimate license to practice this profession in Florida. This license safeguards Florida communities from an inexperienced contractor doing negligent pool or spa building or repairs that could lead to substantial problems to the residential house or commercial building that could cost thousands of dollars to repair. Having a certified Florida pool/spa contractor license proves a professional is skilled, experienced, and qualified to build and repair swimming pools or spas in the State of Florida.
In Florida, pool and spa contractors must obtain either a Residential or Commercial Pool/Spa Contractor License through the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR). The Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), created within the DBPR, is responsible for regulating licensed pool and spa contractors in Florida. To build or repair pools and spas, contractors must also have required education, experience, and insurance qualifications determined by the CILB.
Licensed pool and spa contractors in Florida can face disciplinary action from complaints associated with various reasons. Often, customers or competitors file claims related to careless or unauthorized services provided. Some of the most common complaints against pool and spa contractors include:
Many times, complaints filed against swimming pool and spa contractors are related to not completing work on time, not showing up to complete a job, or unprofessional behavior. Any of these complaints can lead to severe legal implications. If you’re facing a complaint against your Florida pool contractor license, it’s essential that you hire a professional license defense attorney as soon as possible.
Anyone who wants to file a complaint against a licensed Florida pool and spa contractor would do so by reaching out to the DBPR and filling out a Uniform Complaint Form. The DBPR’s online service also enables the public to confirm that a professional’s license is valid and filing a complaint. However, suppose it’s discovered that a person submits a false claim without any proof or with ill intent to mislead an investigation. In that case, they may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.
After a complaint is filed against a pool contractor, it’s evaluated by either the Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB) or an investigator with the DBPR. The investigation involves gathering enough information to decide whether the complaint can proceed to the next step.
Information collected during an investigation typically includes:
As a professional air conditioning contractor, it is highly recommended that you secure a knowledgeable and skilled attorney to help you build a befitting response to the investigation process. Often, an experienced attorney can end the investigation process at its earliest stage, preventing you from further harming your reputation or business.
If the investigation acquires enough evidence to move the allegation forward, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That typically involves members on the CILB who review the documents and evidence relevant to the complaint.
During this process, it is essential that you have your license defense lawyer by your side and do not resolve it alone.
The panel review may result in three possible outcomes:
A finding of “no probable cause” is a dismissal of the case. This implies there was not enough evidence proving that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action, but it is issued when the panel finds that a minor violation occurred. The most severe outcome is when a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you.
An Administrative Complaint against you defines the evidence in detail, and the evidence against you discovered during the investigation, along with the particular laws or regulations that you’re accused of violating. At this time, the complaint becomes public record. Even if the claim is thrown out, your reputation as a professional pool and spa contractor can be damaged. After consulting with your attorney, you can decide whether you want to attend an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.
If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, you do not wish to dispute any of the claims against you, nor do you want to disclose any new evidence. Instead, you recognize the complaint, and you’ll face the Board again, where they’ll make a final decision on penalties that will be enforced against you.
If you wish to dispute the allegations and evidence found against you during the investigation, you move forward to a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is chaired by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ hears the evidence from each side and makes a final Recommended Order to the Construction Industry Licensing Board. The Board then makes a final decision regarding disciplinary actions.
You can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your air conditioning pool and spa contractor license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney is your most valued supporter as you go through this process – always seek counsel from them before making a final decision.
At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team examines every case in detail to find the pertinent facts and the most effective way to protect your Florida pool and spa contractor license. Occasionally, complaints against pool contractors can go to criminal court and face criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal lawyer who handles professional license defense is a top priority.
Umansky lawyers can help you in many ways, including:
If you have been accused of committing an act where the State may rescind or suspend your license or business activities, call us to defend you. As experienced lawyers, we can help you build a robust defense against the charges you face that may include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or claim against you. Because we have a criminal defense background that provides for construction, fraud, and other crimes, we stand ready to defend you in the administrative action and help you avert license suspension and criminal prosecution.
The Umansky Law Firm attorneys include defense lawyers, former prosecutors, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. To speak with an administrative attorney today about your Florida pool contractor license, complete an online contact form or call.
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