Los Angeles, CA asked in Construction Law for California

Q: Can I sue an unlicensed contractor for $$ already paid despite he has completed the job? He uses someone else license #.

And if this unlicensed contractor files a mechanic's lien on my property for unpaid balance, is it enforceable? And is it fraud on his part for doing so?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Jeannette C.C. Darrow
Jeannette C.C. Darrow
  • Construction Law Lawyer
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: A homeowner is allowed to sue an unlicensed contractor for money already paid on a job regardless of whether the job was completed, and regardless of whether the work was perfect and you were 100% satisfied with it. By law, the party who contracts with an unlicensed contractor (for a project of more than $500 for which a license is required) can sue for "disgorgement" of monies already paid.

The unlicensed contractor can face penalties if he is improperly using someone else's license number, and doing work without a license. Also, unlicensed contractors do not have mechanic's lien rights, so any lien would not be enforceable. It isn't "fraud" per se, but there are California laws that allow you to potentially recover attorneys' fees and costs if the unlicensed contractor does not voluntarily remove the invalid mechanic's lien after proper notice. There are detailed California laws regarding this topic, so contract a construction law attorney to assist you.

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