Since I started Angie’s List 14 years ago, I’ve encouraged homeowners to hire licensed contractors
and asked the companies rated on the List to tell us whether they’re licensed or not.
We’ve taken the companies word for their trade license status, but I’ve always asked members to take that extra step to verify the validity of any license their contractor claims to hold. We tried to make that check easier by providing links to state licensing agencies
a few years ago, but today we’re going further.
Today we’re launching a call on lawmakers to enact uniform and understandable trade licensing laws that give consumers an assurance that anyone holding a license is qualified to do the job it covers. We’re also asking lawmakers to set aside a portion of licensing fees for consumer protection funds, so homeowners who do all that advance work and still get bilked by licensed contractors can recover their lost investments. A handful of states already do this, and I think every homeowner should have this safety net.
While we wait for lawmakers to consider our request, we’re toughening our internal policies about license status
We’ve already started asking the companies rated on the List to attest that they are in compliance with all applicable state and local trade licensing laws. Like the IRS, we’ll audit contractors to verify they are following the law.
Companies that aren’t properly licensed will have an opportunity to get there. Those that don’t – and anyone who is found to have not told us the truth – will face actions from Angie’s List that will include alerting members to their true status.
I hope you read The Angie’s List Magazine this month to see just how complex U.S. contractor licensing laws
are. You may begin to appreciate why it is that (to the best of my knowledge) no one has ever been able to comprehensively and easily help consumers determine what the laws are, let alone trace the status of the licensees.
Most contractor licensing laws are complex, but consider the case of the person who lives in southern Indiana or the tri-state area of New York City. Their contractor may cross a state border to do their work. He or she may cross city lines. Each jurisdiction crossed may bring a different set of rules to follow. The laws may be really well written and offer real protection and reliability. They might not. They might be well enforced. They might not.
The point that I’m going to try to make in the next few months is not whether Angie’s List supports any one particular law over another. It’s that consumers shouldn’t have to fight this hard to find reliable help. If government is going to regulate it (and we agree that regulation is needed) it should do in a way that’s easy to follow, truly enforced and offers real protection.
We’re doing our part to help improve the situation. Please do yours by checking your contractor’s trade license status BEFORE you hire.
Check trade licensing laws by state