February 2107

News from Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman

Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman Newsletter
February 2017

We hope that you enjoy this edition of our Newsletter.
Remember, if there is anything that you would like to see in the future, please let us know.
The Staff at
Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman

January 24, 2017 CSLB #17-01

California Construction Industry Urged to Help CSLB Conduct its Highly Successful Undercover Sting Operations
SACRAMENTO - One of the Contractors State License Board's (CSLB) best tools to catch unlicensed contractors is an undercover sting operation. CSLB conducts stings all around the state on a regular basis.
The stings are conducted by CSLB's Statewide Investigative Fraud Teams (SWIFT) with the assistance of state or local law enforcement agencies. Every year, investigators arrest hundreds of unlicensed contractors through these undercover operations that are staged unannounced year-round throughout California.
In order to continue these efforts to curb the underground economy, CSLB needs access to more residential and commercial properties to use for 1-2 days as sting sites to catch suspected unlicensed contractors.
Recognizing that stings are one of CSLB's most effective weapons against illegal contracting, the Board gave their approval to schedule more events to flush out phony contractors in 2017.
To offer a property for use at a future sting, or to learn more about these operations, please contact the SWIFT office closest to you:
Northern California

Central California

Southern California

January 24, 2017 CSLB #17-02

Free Workshops Available to Help Contractors Do Business with the State of California

SACRAMENTO -The Contractors State License Board (CSLB) is encouraging licensees to consider attending free state business certification workshops next month.
The workshops, hosted by the state's Department of General Services (DGS), are designed to help small businesses get certified so they can bid for contracts with the state of California.
The first step for contractors to get state businesses is to get certified by the state as a Small Business (SB) or Disabled Veteran Business Enterprise (DVBE). State certified SB's and DVBE's have access to exclusive benefits, including possible bid preference and incentives with state agencies.
If your business is not certified, you can sign up for a workshop with DGS experts who will help you submit your SB or DVBE application.
The workshops will take place on Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at DGS Headquarters, 707 3rd Street, West Sacramento, during the department's 2017 Winter Business Showcase.
Register below for one of the sessions. Since seating is limited to 36, please do not sign up for both sessions.
Gather and bring the following documents / information to the workshops:
  • Applicant/Affiliate business Federal Tax Returns for three most recent tax years
  • Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)
  • Secretary of State Number
  • Home address of Officers, Members/Managers and Partners
  • Dun & Bradstreet Number (if applicable)
  • Contractors State License Board Number (if applicable)
  • A list of keywords describing your business activities. NOTE: Limited to 255 characters; do not use periods or commas; do not repeat words.
Arrive early for two other presentations during DGS's Winter Business Showcase:
  • 10:00 am - How to Identify and Respond to Request for Proposals (RFPs)
  • 11:00 am - How to Market to State Government
To learn more about certification workshops, contact:

Wayne Gross, DGS Certification & Outreach Liaison Wayne.Gross@dgs.ca.gov
(916) 375-4339
To learn more about the 2017 Winter Business Showcase, contact:

Tanya Little, DGS Business Development Program BusinessDevelopment@dgs.ca.gov (916) 375-4936

Copyright © 2017, CSLB

By Bruce D. Rudman

Some of you have been lucky and have never had a Contractors' State License Board ("CSLB") Complaint. Others have had a few. Lately, the "consumer playbook" is to not only litigate, but to file complaints with the CSLB, the license bond surety, and post negative reviews on social media including Yelp and Angie's List. This article will only focus on the CSLB, but your response may be similar though the ramifications are different.
When a Complaint is received by the Contractors Board, it is first assigned to an Intake Center who will informally try to resolve the case before sending it to an investigator. It is at this point that your best move is to do what you can to settle the claim. The CSLB usually sends a form letter to the contractor, advising that a Complaint has been received from a Complainant, the address where the project is located, and an advisory that the contractor should contact the customer and attempt to settle the matter. The form also requires a response to the Contractors Board. That response requires the contractor to advise the Board if:
  • A settlement was reached and identify the amount of the settlement;
  • Whether a settlement was offered and rejected; or
  • Whether there were no violations.

Now, many contractors will immediately pick up the phone and call the Contractors Board but not send any further response. Others will set aside the letter and simply ignore it until they are called or contacted. Others may contact the customer and find out what is wrong. Sometimes, the contractor gets the form letter before the customer has even complained to the contractor and the contractor does not know what the complaint is about.

In every case, even in cases where you are owed money or there is animosity between the customer and contractor, the contractor should make an effort to contact the owner in writing, with an offer to remedy the complaint. In that written communication - I generally recommend the method of communication the parties utilized during their course of business together, except I never recommend responding by text message - the contractor respond with the known reasons why the claim is refuted, and if there are any workmanship or warranty claims, the contractor should indicate that if there is a problem with the work, it is ready, willing and able to correct the work. These are the buzz words that should be used in every communication.

If you use these words and the customer will not let you back in, it is hard to assert that you have abandoned the project. Further, there is case law that holds that a contractor that has offered to make the homeowner whole, but that offer was rejected, may not necessarily be subject to discipline. Since the contractor very well may be responding to multiple parties, compiling the information while it is still available and fresh in your mind is essential.

Now, here is why you should timely respond: if you respond and the Complainant does not provide information to the CSLB as they may request, they will often close the file. If the contractor will not respond to the Intake Department, then they will assign it to an investigator. It is a rare occasion every contract requirement was included in the contract; it is easy to find technical violations which lead to a Citation. However, if an investigator is assigned, he or she will retain an industry expert to review the work. Having handled Contractors Board matters for 20 years, it is a rare occurrence that an industry expert will find nothing wrong with the work. Sometimes the findings are things not even included in your scope of work and that is your battle. However, you want to attempt to cut that off at the pass.

If the case is assigned to an investigator, and you truly have an issue, you may want to consult with an attorney before meeting with the investigator or making a statement. If you are owed money, get your ducks in a row and document everything, including contracts, change orders and the like. If your contract does not comply with the law you may want to settle with the customer even if it pains you to do so. If the investigator offers you the CSLB Arbitration program, you may want to seriously consider that. You may not have a choice if the owner's claim is for under $15,000 since the Contractors Board can compel you to participate in their program. The benefit of the program is that you argue the facts to a neutral arbitrator, and assuming you comply with the award, there is absolutely no negative report on your license information.

Keeping a clear license history is very important as a Citation and Accusation will be a scarlet letter on your license for many years to come. If in doubt, discuss your case with an Attorney.
A guy walked into a post office just before Valentine's day, he couldn't help noticing a middle-aged, balding man standing in a corner sticking "Love" stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. Then the man got out a bottle of Channel perfume from his pocket and started spraying scent over the envelopes.
By now the man's curiosity had got the better of him, and so I asked the other man why he was sending all those cards. The man replied, "I'm sending out 500 Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?'"
"But why?" asked the first man.
"I'm a divorce lawyer," the man replied.

Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman
provides this information as a service to its friends and clients. This Newsletter is of a general nature and is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. This Newsletter does not establish an attorney-client relationship with the reader. Since laws are ever changing, please contact an attorney before using any of the information contained within this Newsletter.
Abdulaziz, Grossbart & Rudman
6454 Coldwater Canyon Ave.
North Hollywood, California 91606
(818) 760-2000; (818) 760-3908 (fax)
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