Published on 10/3/2023, 2:31:00 PM
Contracting Without a License in Maryland
Contracting without the appropriate licensing in Maryland is a serious offense, punishable by law. Whether you're a contractor looking to familiarize yourself with local regulations or someone who's recently faced charges related to this issue, it's essential to be well-informed. In this article, we'll delve into the Maryland laws surrounding unlicensed contracting, discuss the penalties, and highlight the significance of securing legal representation.
Who is in charge of contracting licenses in Maryland?
Maryland's Home Improvement Commission, or MHIC is tasked with maintaining contracting licenses and investigating suspected violations of Maryland home improvement laws.
The Legal Stance: Understanding Maryland's Business Regulation
According to the Maryland Business Regulation Code, Title 8, which pertains to Home Improvement:
Section 8-601 - Acting as Contractor or Selling a Home Improvement Without License
(a) A person cannot act or offer contractor services in Maryland unless they possess a contractor license. This means even if you have intentions to work and advertise, without the license, it's against the law.
(b) Likewise, selling or even offering to sell a home improvement requires a contractor or salesperson license.
(c) Breaking this law is a misdemeanor On the first conviction, one can face a fine of up to $1,000 or a prison term not exceeding 6 months - or even both. Subsequent convictions carry steeper penalties, with fines going up to $5,000 or imprisonment of up to 2 years, or both.
Reading the law verbatim provides clarity, but let's break down what this means for individuals and businesses.
Unlicensed Contracting: Real-life Consequences
Imagine John, an enthusiastic individual skilled in home renovations. He moved to Maryland from another state and, eager to set up his business, started advertising his services. John took up a home improvement task which involved constructing a porch and remodeling a kitchen. Midway through the project, the homeowner discovered John didn't have a Maryland contractor's license and reported him.
John now faces potential jail time, hefty fines, and damage to his professional reputation. Had he sought proper counsel, such as the experienced attorneys at FrizWoods, he would have understood the risks and the importance of obtaining a license before commencing any work.
Here, we showcase not only the value of understanding local laws but also the advantage of having experts by your side who can guide and protect you. You can read more about how we've helped others in similar predicaments on our reviews page.
Section 8-605 Abandonment of or Failure to Perform Contract
Maryland law states that a contractor may not
abandon or fail to perform, without justification, a home improvement contract; or
deviate materially from plans or specifications without the consent of the owner.
This law makes it a crime to fail to complete a contract, with a possible penalty of a fine not exceeding $1,000 or imprisonment not exceeding 6 months or both. This criminal offense is also a misdemeanor.
What Qualifies as a "Home Improvement"?
You might be thinking, "I only did a small renovation. Does that fall under 'home improvement'?" Well, according to Maryland's regulations:
Definition of "Home Improvement"
"Home improvement" means: the addition to or alteration, conversion, improvement, modernization, remodeling, repair, or replacement of a building or part of a building that is used or designed to be used as a residence or dwelling place or a structure adjacent to that building
This can range from altering a building used as a residence, constructing a fence, installing a bathroom, repairing a plumbing line, hanging a door, to even adding a deck or swimming pool.
What's Excluded from the definition of "Home Improvement"?
However, there are some activities that don't fall under "home improvement". These include constructing a brand-new home, or smaller tasks like connecting or repalcing an appliance.
The line between what constitutes a home improvement and what doesn't can be thin, but it's this very distinction that can be pivotal in a court of law. Knowing where your service falls is essential and, once again, emphasizes the importance of legal counsel.
Circuit Court or District Court? Where Do You Stand?
In Maryland, where your case is heard can influence its outcome. The severity of the offense and even the way the case is presented might differ based on the court. Most unlicensed contracting cases resolve in the District Court
Misdemeanors and less severe charges are typically dealt with in the District Court. However, don't be mistaken - the ramifications of a guilty verdict can still significantly impact your life and business. Legal representation is just as crucial here to ensure your rights are protected.
Frequently Asked Questions About Unlicensed Contracting
We understand that legal jargon and processes can be daunting. To help you better navigate this situation, we've compiled some common questions:
Can I get a contractor's license after a conviction?
Yes. According to the Home Improvement Law, if an individual is convicted of acting as a contractor without a license, they may still be eligible to apply for one. The requirements are that all outstanding obligations must be settled, and a year must have passed since the date of conviction.
What defines a "Home improvement contract"?
As per Maryland's regulations, a "home improvement contract" is any oral or written agreement between a contractor and an owner where the contractor promises to perform a home improvement.
I only worked on an individual condominium unit; does that count?
Yes. Work done on individual condominium units is considered a home improvement.
I got a call from MHIC, what should I do next?
If you've been contacted by MHIC and are worried that you might have broken the law, it's important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible.
FrizWoods: Why Choose Us?
Now that we've unpacked the legalities surrounding unlicensed contracting in Maryland, it's evident that having robust legal support is crucial. But why choose FrizWoods?
Expertise: Our team is well-versed with Maryland's intricate laws. We've successfully represented numerous clients, ensuring minimized penalties and sometimes even case dismissals.
Personalized Approach: No two cases are identical. We take the time to understand your situation, tailoring our strategies to ensure the best possible outcome.
Client Testimonials: Don't just take our word for it. Our proven track record is echoed by our clients. See their stories and experiences on our reviews page.
Affordable & Transparent: Legal battles can be draining, both emotionally and financially. We offer transparent pricing without hidden costs, ensuring you get the best defense without breaking the bank.
Conclusion: Don't Navigate the Legal Maze Alone
Contracting without a license in Maryland might seem like a simple oversight, but its repercussions can be long-lasting. Whether you're facing charges or wish to be proactive in your business operations, always stay informed and seek professional counsel.
If you or someone you know is grappling with unlicensed contracting issues, don't hesitate. Time is of the essence. Reach out to FrizWoods today and let our seasoned attorneys guide you through the legal intricacies. Remember, with the right defense, you can safeguard your future and reputation. Contact us now for a consultation.