Q: I am an unlicensed contractor, my client new this and that is why she asked me to do this project on her home. She kept
Changing orders and now is refusing my pay the change orders and will not let me proceed. She wants to file through the courts because she does not want to pay for the changes. Can I be liable because she knew I was not licensed?
A: It is a crime to perform home improvement work without a license. You could be charged with a misdemeanor. I suggest that you speak with a lawyer in a confidential setting.
Mark Oakley agrees with this answer
She can file a complaint with the Maryland Home Improvement Commission, which may take the case to the local prosecutor's office (in the county where the work was performed) and have charges filed against you for performing a home improvement without a license, a crime that carries possible jail time, fines and a misdemeanor conviction. Typically, restitution for what you cost the homeowner in terms of faulty work or work that needs to be redone, or overpayment for work not performed, is also ordered, or may be negotiated as a means to resolve the case without an admission of guilt. You need a criminal defense lawyer for this case familiar with the MHIC law.
Civilly, you cannot sue the homeowner for non-payment in a civil case because the courts will not enforce a contract by an unlicensed home improvement contractor. She can sue you in civil court for the cost to repair or redo faulty work, or to recover money paid to you for work you did not perform. She cannot sue you for payments made for work and materials that were not faulty or defective, and which met the contract terms, because she suffered no actual loss or damage from such work. The fact you were not licensed does not give her the right to money back for work that you performed well. For her to recover money paid to you, the work has to be defective in some manner.
The fact that she knew you were not licensed is immaterial. The statute states that the licensing requirement may not be waived by the homeowner, so you cannot defend on that ground, although you might still try to use that knowledge to show she may be acting in bad faith and was manipulative, thereby reducing sympathy for her and/or undermining her credibility on dsputed factual testimony.
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