The state of New York doesn’t license construction contractors. But don’t be confused. Staying out of legal trouble in New York isn’t simple. Here’s why:
Because construction contractors aren’t licensed by the state, New York cities and counties are free to do the licensing. And several do. For example, the City of New York licenses home improvement contractors. Nassau County, Rockland County and the City of Long Beach also license contractors.
New York courts cut no slack when enforcing these license laws. If you don’t have a license, it’s simple. You’re not going to collect a dime. Case closed. Courts won’t do anything to enforce agreements made by unlicensed contractors. Maybe worse, unlicensed contractors are subject to having their vehicles impounded. It happens.
Incidentally, all this could change. New York Assembly Bill 595, introduced January 8, 2014, would require home improvement contractors to be licensed state-wide. A similar bill died in the legislature last year. But this year, who knows?
But even in cities and counties where no license is required, New York State lays out an obstacle course for construction professionals.
Commercial work — New York General Business Law § 756-a sets the standard for every contract. If you don’t cover key points like payment date, validity of invoices, grounds for disapproving an invoice, grounds for stopping work or several other topics,§ 756-a fills in the details, maybe not what you intended. To keep New York General Business Law § 756-a out of your contracts, make sure your agreements cover all the bases.
Residential work — New York General Business Law § 771 lists what has to be in your contract: