Filing a Registrar of Contractors Complaint
The process begins when a complaint is filed with the Registrar of Contractors. The complaint form can be found on the Registrar of Contractors website. Written notice to the Registrar of Contractors outlining the party's grievance with the contractor suffices to trigger the process. Arizona Revised Statute § 32-1154(A) lists twenty-four grounds for which a contractor's license may be revoked or suspended. The complaint must separately identify each and every allegation against the contractor. The deadline for filing Registrar of Contractors complaints is generally two years from the date of the contractor's alleged violation.
Registrar of Contractors Investigation
Upon receiving a complaint, the Registrar of Contractors will first determine if the contractor is licensed. Assuming the contractor is licensed the Registrar of Contractors notifies the contractor of the complaint and instructs the parties to resolve it. If a resolution is not found, the Registrar of Contractors sends an inspector to the jobsite to review the contractor's work. The contractor should attend the jobsite inspection ready to make repairs. If the inspector finds violations during the site inspection he will issue a corrective work order instructing the contractor to perform certain work and providing a deadline to comply.
Citation and Complaint
If the homeowners are not satisfied with the corrective work, they can ask the inspector to set a hearing. The Registrar of Contractors will send the contractor a Citation and Complaint. The Contractor must file a written answer within ten days. If not, a default order will be entered against the contractor. This deadline is strictly enforced so any contractor must promptly respond in writing or risk his/her license being suspended or revoked. If an answer is filed, the Office of Administrative Hearings will then schedule a hearing.
Contractors should resist the temptation to fight the Registrar of Contractors hearing without an attorney. Four reasons why:
- Your license-i.e. your livelihood-is at risk!!!
- A Registrar of Contractors complaint is part of your permanent record regardless of who prevails in the hearing.
- An administrative law judge who will preside over your case may not be well-versed in the construction industry.
- Most contractors are not equipped to handle the pre-hearing legal requirements and to effectively represent themselves during a hearing. That lack of experience can prevent you from leveraging procedural and evidentiary rules that might support an appeal.
Residential Recovery Fund
If the Registrar of Contractors suspends or revokes a contractor's license following a Registrar of Contractors complaint by an owner who occupies or intends to occupy the home, the homeowner can make a claim against the Registrar of Contractors' Residential Recovery Fund. The Recovery Fund allows homeowners who were injured by a contractor's actions to receive up to a maximum of $30,000.00 for each contractor who damaged the homeowner, up to a maximum $200,000.00 payout per contractor. Certain procedures must be strictly followed to make a Recovery Fund claim. You should discuss your options with a lawyer.
The Registrar of Contractors encourages informal dispute resolution. Once a Registrar of Contractors complaint is filed, however, it may already be too late for the parties to settle the dispute. The best practice is to resolve the dispute before it rises to the level of a Registrar of Contractors complaint. To do this, use a properly licensed contractor, keep the lines of communication open, and make sure the scope of work is clearly defined in writing.