Complaint Process Against Licensed Contractors
Complaints involving a threat to public health and safety receive the highest priority. If CSLB is unable to settle your complaint, you may be referred to alternative dispute resolution resources.
CSLB also prioritizes complaints based on:
- The order of receipt;
- The nature and seriousness of the allegations; and
- Available CSLB resources, including budget and staffing.
Every written complaint is reviewed to determine if it falls within CSLB's jurisdiction. CSLB sends written confirmation that your complaint has been received. A notice also is sent to the contractor to encourage resolution of the complaint without further intervention by CSLB.
If your complaint is not resolved at this point, CSLB may ask you to provide additional information and/or documentation. If mediation is appropriate, CSLB will contact you and the contractor and attempt to mediate the dispute.
Small Claims Court / License Bond Claims
Due to current budget and staffing limits, if mediation attempts are not successful, the contractor does not have a history of repeated acts, and the estimated financial injury is less than $10,000, CSLB may provide you with information about how to pursue financial compensation through small claims court and through the contractor’s license bond. You can find additional information at www.courts.ca.gov. Just click on “Self Help” or check with the clerk of your local small claims court for more about filing an action.
Consumers are encouraged to provide CSLB with the results of a small claims court victory or a successful claim against a contractor’s license bond. CSLB has the authority to suspend a contractor’s license if they do not comply with an outstanding civil liability or bond payout.
If CSLB determines that the complaint requires further investigation, it will be assigned to one of CSLB’s investigative centers. The investigation will determine if there is clear and convincing evidence to support a violation of Contractors State License Law. The investigation may include interviews with you, the contractor, other parties to the contract and any other parties who can furnish relevant information.
CSLB administers two arbitration programs: a mandatory program for disputes involving alleged damages of $15,000 or less, and a voluntary program for disputes involving allegations of damage between $15,000 and $50,000.
Complaints must meet stringent criteria to qualify for referral to a CSLB arbitration program. CSLB staff will determine whether the dispute meets these criteria. To review these programs see the Mandatory Arbitration and Voluntary Arbitration guides or you can order copies by calling 800.321.CSLB (2752).
Violations of the law by a licensed contractor may result in a citation or charges against the contractor that could lead to suspension or revocation of the contractor's license. Citations may contain civil penalties of up to $5,000 and/or orders of correction requiring the contractor to make repairs to your project or pay you to hire others to do so. (If a disciplinary action is undertaken, the state Office of the Attorney General represents CSLB to prosecute the case. The Attorney General is not counsel for the complainant, but counsel for CSLB.)