Saturday, May 7, 2016

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 Licensed Contractor in Maryland

 Maryland Contractor's Regulations

Consumer Advice - Home Improvement Commission of Maryland (MHIC)


   Make sure the contractor you choose is licensed. It is a criminal offense to do home improvements without a license, and there is no protection from the Guaranty Fund for the homeowner who uses an unlicensed contractor.

   Check the license status of a contractor or salesperson.

Many times a contractor is willing to fix items in an effort to resolve a homeowner's complaint. The Commission's authority is limited to issuing a fine to a contractor, suspending or revoking a contractor's license (following a hearing), and in cases where the homeowner has filed a claim against the Guaranty Fund, awarding a homeowner money from the Guaranty Fund.

The complaint triggers a regulatory investigation, which may have no direct benefit to the homeowner. The purpose of the investigation is for MHIC to determine if the contractor has violated the Home Improvement Law. The homeowner does not directly benefit from this investigation, which is aimed at protecting the public by upholding the professional standards of the home improvement industry in Maryland. However, in some cases, MHIC will work with the homeowner and the contractor to settle a complaint whereby MHIC agrees to not pursue regulatory charges against the contractor if the contractor agrees to reimburse the homeowner for some or all the contract price.

Yes, unless the contractor resolves a complaint within 30 days, each complaint is typically part of the public record. MHIC does not publish complaints in which the contractor agrees to participate in mediation or complaints that lacks factual or legal merit. Complaints remain part of the contractor's public record for three fiscal years.

If MHIC files regulatory charges against the contractor, then the contractor receives a copy of the Statement of Charges and a hearing notice. Hearings are held at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Based upon the number and severity of the charges, if the ALJ finds that the contractor violated the Home Improvement Law or regulations, the contractor may be fined up to $5,000 per violation. In addition, the contractor's license may be suspended or revoked. In some cases, the contractor may enter into a consent agreement and agree to pay a fine or to reimburse money to the homeowner in order to avoid a formal hearing.

Most likely, an investigator will not come to your house. Instead, MHIC relies upon the homeowner providing photographs and other evidence to support the complaint. In certain cases that are the highest priority for MHIC, such as complaint involving elderly homeowners and allegations of fraud, MHIC does attempt to send an investigator to conduct a site visit.

Once the contractor responds in writing to the complaint, then an MHIC investigator begins an investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to support a charge that the contractor violated the Home Improvement Law or regulations. The investigator may also attempt to have the parties resolve the dispute either informally or by participating in MHIC's formal mediation program.

The Commission's goal is to complete each investigation within 60 days of receiving the contractor's response. Some investigations take additional time, especially when one side does not provide all the necessary information.

If the contractor does not respond to the Notice of Complaint, the Commission may schedule a show cause hearing before a Hearing Board. At a show cause hearing, the contractor must appear and explain to the Commission the failure to respond. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Board may take disciplinary action against the contractor, such as suspending the contractor's MHIC license or fining the contractor up to $5,000, if it finds that the contractor violated the Home Improvement Law by failing to respond in writing to the complaint. The homeowner is not required to appear at the show cause hearing. However, the hearing is public so the homeowner has a right to attend. Homeowners who do attend the show cause hearing do not have an opportunity to speak to the Hearing Board. Show cause hearings are held before a Hearing Board of the Commission on the first Thursday of every other month.
The first step in the complaint process is to complete and sign a written complaint form. Complaint forms are available online, or by visiting the Commission. You may also call the Commission at 410-230-6309 or 1-888-218-5925 to request that a complaint form - be mailed to you.
Anyone may check a contractor's complaint history by calling the Home Improvement Commission, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at the following telephone numbers: 1-888-218-5925 (toll free) or 410-230-6309 (Baltimore area), or by sending an e-mail to Complaints filed within the last three fiscal years are reportable to the public within 30 days of being filed. Certain complaints that are determined to lack merit are not reportable to the public
Visit Art Stone Home Improvements  Website for more details or information