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I read an article recently about a ruling by the Arizona Supreme Court regarding what the owners of a residence are able to recover from an unlicensed contractor. The old law said that the owner could recover 100% of the money they had paid a contractor if it was found that the contractor did not have a valid license.

The Arizona court changed that ruling – they said that the court having jurisdiction in such a case must measure the amount of value and benefit the owner received from the work, regardless of whether or not the contractor was licensed. That amount would then be deducted from the amount the owner would be trying to recover. Hurray for who?

I can see both sides of the argument. In this particular case, the contractor subbed out most of the job to licensed contractors, and he’d paid those licensed subs for their work. I tend to believe it’s better to make the unlicensed contractor give all the money back. If a license is required, it’s usually against the law to operate without a license. If they break the law, make them pay – that is the only language some knotheads understand. And it protects the public. On the other hand, what happens if the contractor’s license has expired through an error or inattention from a staff person that works for him? Always two sides to the story.

Watch your paperwork. It matters.

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