Unlicensed Contractors

Can unlicensed contractors defend against homeowner’s claims?

Yes, an unlicensed contractor can defend claims according to the Fifth District Court of Appeal in Brock v. Garner Window & Door Sales, Inc., 187 So. 3d 294 (Fla. 5th DCA 2016).

In Brock, the homeowners sued a window installation contractor alleging that the contractor defectively installed windows which caused water intrusion.  Garner Windows, the contractor, was not licensed.  Garner Windows raised the statute of limitations defense.

The homeowners argued that Garner Windows could not rely on the statute of limitations because the four year statute of limitations in section 95.11(3)(c), Florida Statutes, states that the limitations period begins to run on the date of completion or termination of the contract between the . . . licensed contractor and his employer.  In this case, since Garner Windows was not licensed, the homeowner argued that the 4 year statute of limitations did not apply.

The Fifth District disagreed with the homeowner finding that the 4 year statute of limitations did apply even though the contractor was not licensed.  The court reasoned that the term “licensed contractor” was only referring to wen the statute starts to run and not the type of actions to which it applies.  The court held that although section 489.128, Florida Statutes, prohibits an unlicensed contractor from enforcing its contract, it does not preclude an unlicensed contractor from defending against an action to enforce a contract by the owner.

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