Contractor RMOs for Hire

The CSLB released their Winter 2015-16 newsletter last week. One article discussed contractor RMOs for hire.CSLB Gestapo Tactics

Section 7068.1 of the Business and Professions code states: …”responsible for exercising that direct supervision and control of his or her employer’s or principal’s construction operations to secure compliance with this chapter and the rules and regulations of the board.” And Code 823(b) states: “For purposes of Section 7068.1 of the Code, “direct supervision and control” includes any one or any combination of the following activities: supervising construction, managing construction activities by making technical and administrative decisions, checking jobs for proper workmanship, or direct supervision on construction job sites.”

823 states “any one or any combination,” so if you are using an RMO that is not directly related to your business you need to ensure that he/she is following these guidelines.

I talk to people almost daily who need to use an RMO who is not directly related to their business. I tell them that the RMO must be involved in the construction activities that will be conducted under the license and the same rules and responsibilities apply as they do to the license they currently hold.

What I think is at issue here is the broad definition of “direct supervision and control.” Does the RMO need to be on the job site to manage or make technical and admin decisions? Not according to the law. Remember, it states “any one or any combination” is allowed, that suggests “direct supervision on construction job sites” does not have to be a mandatory choice.

With this ambiguity I’m left wondering what the CSLB gestapo task force is finding during their “investigations”, what are they citing these contractors with, and what are the criminal cases truly about?

I’m sure any attorney worth his hourly fee would be able to punch holes in any CSLB case that involved 7068.1 and 823. So if you are using an RMO or you are an RMO and you do not have a direct relationship with the business, I suggest you become as active as possible with the work being done. Log all phone calls, keep all emails, review contracts and sign them if possible, review photographs, and yes… even drop by the job site if you can (even though the law cited by the CSLB does not require it).

Last comment…. if this is such a big problem that the CSLB had to create a “task force”, why don’t they just amend or remove B&P Code 7068.1? Get rid of the 20% rule altogether? Or is it easier to create an unregulated task force, pry into the business activities of licensee’s, write citations and criminal cases, and collect 100’s of thousands of dollars? Well…. they even say it themselves… “yielded big dividends”!

Full CSLB article below

RMOs-for-Hire Better Know What They’re Getting Into

CSLB has zeroed in on licensees who rent their services as Responsible Managing Officers (RMOs) for companies over which they have little or no control. Due to the work of a special CSLB task force that targets suspected RMO abuses, those who act as little more than paid license qualifier for companies are being identified and disciplined for violating state contractor law.

Contractors who serve as qualifiers for a company’s construction operations must exercise direct control and supervision, and, by law, maintain at least a 20 percent ownership stake in each firm for which the person acts as a qualifier. Business and Professions Code (BPC) section 7068.1 authorizes CSLB to discipline the licensed entity when the qualifier is not actively involved in the construction activities of the license they are representing. In addition to administrative penalties, the individual falsely serving as a qualifier on the license can be charged with a misdemeanor and be sentenced to serve up to six months in jail, and required to pay a fine of up to $5,000, or both.

CSLB’s effort to uncover straw men RMOs has yielded big dividends. There have been a total of 304 complaints filed against those suspected of misusing their qualifier status (many still under investigation), 31 accusations filed to revoke or suspend a license, 12 citations issued for violations of contractor law, 11 criminal cases filed by local district attorney’s offices, and $215,000 in restitution ordered for wronged consumers.

CSLB has strong words of caution for those who would enter these arrangements: If you act as an RMO and do not have active and financial involvement in the construction and business operations, you risk CSLB administrative penalties against your license(s) as well as criminal prosecution, regardless of whether you’re aware of substandard work being performed by unqualified individuals.

The task force also is watching for exam waiver requests from applicants suspected of only seeking to rent their name for a fee. CSLB also will seek to revoke qualifier status previously granted to anyone whose actions demonstrate they do not have an ownership stake or are not active decision makers listed on a license.

A review of BPC section 7065 will provide further explanation of examination waiver laws.

End of article

Very last comment…. do I think the CSLB should be taking action against the extremely small percentage of contractor RMOs for hire? Yes.  Should they create an unregulated task force with no oversight to invade the businesses of California contractors? …. Not just no, but hell no!

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Report Unlicensed Activity

CSLB Unlicensed Contractor stingThe Contractors State License Board (CSLB) states that unlicensed contracting is part of California’s estimated annual $60 to $140 billion dollar underground economy. These individuals and businesses do not pay taxes, have general liability insurance or license surety bonds. The CSLB also believes that it is not unusual for them to be involved in other illegal activities as well.

What can you do if believe that an individual or business is contracting without a license? And can I report unlicensed activity?

File a complaint using this CSLB Advertising Complaint for Unlicensed Contractors form.

What is illegal contractor activity?

It is illegal for an unlicensed person to perform contracting work on any project valued at $500 or more in combined labor and material costs. Besides being illegal, unlicensed contractors lack accountability and have a high rate of involvement in construction scams. Unlicensed contractors are also creating unfair competition for licensed contractors who operate with bonds, insurance, and other responsible business practices.

What should you do if you know that an individual or business is using someone else’s license number illegally?

File a complaint using this CSLB Advertising Complaint for Unlicensed Contractors form.

What happens if you don’t renew you license on time?

You will be considered unlicensed until your renewal is processed. During this period you may not enter into any new contracts.

How does CSLB process complaints against unlicensed contractors?

When the Board receives a complaint against an unlicensed contractor, it may issue an administrative citation or file a criminal action with the local district attorney’s office. In some cases, it may initiate injunction proceedings against the non-licensee through the Office of the Attorney General or the district attorney.

Citation

The Registrar may issue a citation to an unlicensed contractor when there is probable cause to believe that the person is acting in the capacity of a contractor or engaging in the business of contracting without a license that is in good standing with CSLB. The citation includes an order of abatement to cease and desist and a civil penalty of up to $15,000. Unless the board receives a written appeal within fifteen (15) working days after the citation is served, the citation becomes a final order of the Registrar. The civil penalty is paid to CSLB.

If the citation is appealed, a mandatory settlement conference may be held to resolve the citation. If the matter is not settled, the appeal will be heard before an administrative law judge. The administrative law judge submits a decision to uphold, modify, or dismiss the citation. The decision is sent to the Registrar for adoption. If the cited unlicensed contractor continues to contract without a license, the Registrar may refer the case to the local district attorney for criminal action.

Criminal Action

CSLB may refer investigations to the local prosecutor to file criminal charges. If criminal charges are filed, the unlicensed contractor appears in local court, which renders a final decision on the case. The court may order a fine, probation, restitution, a jail sentence, or all of these.

Injunction

The Registrar may apply for an injunction with the superior court of either the county in which an alleged practice or transaction took place or the county in which the unlicensed person maintains a business or residence. An injunction restrains an unlicensed person from acting in the capacity or engaging in the business of contracting without a license that is in good standing with CSLB.

If you are unlicensed and need help with your application or you need study materials, the License Guru is here to help.

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How to Get a California Contractors License Part 4

IN THIS SERIES OF POSTS, I’LL TELL YOU HOW TO GET A CALIFORNIA CONTRACTORS LICENSE. ON TO PART 4.

Contractors State License Board Wall License

16) DOES THE CSLB RECOGNIZE LICENSES FROM OTHER STATES?

Yes. The CSLB has reciprocity agreements with Utah, Nevada and Arizona. It is possible to get a CA license if you hold a license in one of these states by only having to take the CA Law & Business exam. The key is, you must have been licensed in the other State for a minimum of 5 out of the last 7 years. Note, if you are applying for one of the 8 critical classifications, be prepared to submit additional experience verification documents with your application.

17) WHAT HAPPENS IF I GET CAUGHT OPERATING WITHOUT A LICENSE?

It is a misdemeanor in CA, and the fines can range from $200 to $15,000. A citation would be issued that would remain at the Board for up to 10 years. So if or when you apply for your license, your application will be delayed for an extended period of time while they review the circumstances of the citation.

18) AM I REQUIRED TO BE FINGERPRINTED?

Yes. Fingerprints are required for all new applications, adding officers to an existing license, replacing the qualifier, etc.

19) WHAT IF I HAVE A MISDEMEANOR CONVICTION FROM YEARS AGO? CAN I STILL GET MY LICENSE?

Yes. You can still get your license but the application processing time will be greatly increased. All fingerprints go through the CA Department of Justice and the FBI before being sent to the CSLB. At the CSLB the records will be reviewed by the Criminal Background Unit or CBU. At the time of this video, the current backlog in the CBU is around 2 months. Which means that receiving a test date and obtaining your license could take as long as 4-6 months.

20) ARE THERE ANY FINANCIAL REQUIREMENTS TO QUALIFY FOR A LICENSE?

Yes. The CSLB requires that you maintain at least $2500 in working capital. There is a check box in the application that ask’s you this question. But the CSLB does not require you to provide banking information to prove this.

Stay tuned… Part 5 coming soon!

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Contractor Adversiting Rules 5/15/2013​

I was recently asked if a corporate license using a DBA can advertise with just the DBA. My answer was yes. As long as the public can find your license information on the CSLB website by searching the DBA, you are in compliance with the rule. Remember, your license number must be included in ALL advertising. Including on your vehicles. Every time I see a contractors rig, I ALWAYS look for their number. 98% of the time it’s listed. That means that 2% of you are not in compliance. And with the CSLB on an enforcement binge, you shouldn’t take the chance of receiving a citation.​

advertising sign

Here are the laws that pertain to advertising:​

7027. Advertising as contractor

Any person who advertises or puts out any sign or card or other device that would indicate to the public that he or she is a contractor, or who causes his or her name or business name to be included in a classified advertisement or directory under a classification for construction or work of improvement covered by this chapter is subject to the provisions of this chapter regardless of whether his or her operations as a builder are otherwise exempted.

7027.4. Advertising as insured or bonded; Requirements; Cause for discipline

(a) It is a cause for discipline for any contractor to advertise that he or she is “insured” or has insurance without identifying in the advertisement the type of insurance, including, for example, “commercial general liability insurance” or “workers’ compensation insurance” that is carried by the contractor. The contractor may abbreviate the title of the type of insurance.

(b) It is cause for discipline for a contractor to advertise that he or she is “bonded” if the reference is to a contractor’s license bond required pursuant to Section 7071.6 or to a disciplinary bond required pursuant to Section 7071.8.

(c) “Advertise,” as used in this section, includes, but is not limited to, the issuance of any card, sign, or device to any person, the causing, permitting, or allowing of any sign or marking on or in any building or structure or business vehicle or in any newspaper, magazine, or by airwave or any electronic transmission, or in any directory under a listing for construction or work of improvement covered by this chapter, for the direct or indirect purpose of performing or offering to perform services that require a contractor’s license.

7071.13. Reference to bond in advertising, soliciting, or other presentments as ground for suspension of license

Any reference by a contractor in his advertising, soliciting, or other presentments to the public to any bond required to be filed pursuant to this chapter is a ground for the suspension of the license of such contractor.

7029.5. Display of name, business address and business license number on commercial vehicles.

Every C-36 plumbing contractor, C-45 sign contractor, and C-57 well-drilling contractor licensed under this chapter shall have displayed on each side of each motor vehicle used in his or her business, for which a commercial vehicle registration fee has been paid pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9400) of Chapter 6 of Division 3 of the Vehicle Code, his or her name, permanent business address, and contractor’s license number, all in letters and numerals not less than 1½ inches high. The identification requirements of this section shall also apply to any drill rig used for the drilling of water wells. Failure to comply with this section constitutes a cause for disciplinary action.

7029.6. Display of business name and contractors’ license number

Except for contractors identified in Section 7029.5, every contractor licensed under this chapter shall have displayed, in or on each motor vehicle used in his or her construction business, for which a commercial vehicle registration fee has been paid pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 9400) of Chapter 6 of Division 3 of the Vehicle Code, his or her business name and contractors’ license number in a clearly visible location in print type of at least 72-point font or three-quarters of an inch in height and width.

7030.5. Inclusion of license number in contracts, bids, and advertising

Every person licensed pursuant to this chapter shall include his license number in: (a) all construction contracts; (b) subcontracts and calls for bid; and (c) all forms of advertising, as prescribed by the registrar of contractors, used by such a person.

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