DoI need a contracting license to take someone to small claims court for non-payment?

UPDATED: Sep 5, 2011

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DoI need a contracting license to take someone to small claims court for non-payment?

I did a job for someone and we had verbal agreement. I got 2 checks from the owner but when we finished the job he refused to pay last payment. I’m not a licensed contractor and an doing this as side job. If I take this person to small claims court is the judge going to ask me if I’m licensed?

Asked on September 5, 2011 under Business Law, New York


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In most states in this country a person who is not a licensed contractor is precluded from suing a person and collecting for unpaid work that normally would require a contractor's license. This is the long established law in California. If the amount owed is less than a certain amount perhaps under New York's law you can claim it without having to establish that you are a licensed contractor.

In California, work up to $500 does not require a contractor's license. Also, if you did the job on a time and materials basis you might be able to get around the licensed contractor requirement in your state.

I have no idea if you go to small claims court if the judge will ask if you are a licensed cntractor or not or if the person you want to sue will bring up the issue. The one thing for sure is that unless you press the person for the money owed you will never see it.

Good luck.


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