How to file a complaint against a contractor in New York City

Camila Lopez - Government Complaints - August 29, 2022

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Houses are complicated, full of things that break or need to be improved, oftentimes it seems there is always something that needs work. Contractors step in to help fix the problems around the places we call home. So if a contractor makes a mistake or disagrees with you, it can add to the headache that the problem has already caused. Thankfully, there are several options available to you for solving disputes against a contractor, some of these include submitting a complaint to the New York City Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (also known as the DCWP/DCA), and filing a lawsuit in small claims court.

This article informs you about how to file a complaint against a contractor in NYC and how to sue a contractor in New York.  

NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP/DCA)

What is the DCWP?

The DCWP (formerly the Department of Consumer Affairs/DCA) is a department of New York City that regulates over 51,000 businesses in the city that never sleeps, mainly responsible for enforcing fair business practices and informing citizens of ways to be aware of scams, dangers, and knowledge that can help them in the New York City marketplace.

What types of complaints does the DCWP handle, and why should you submit one?

Note: The DCWP does not receive complaints from businesses against other businesses. If you’re representing a business, an alternative option is to head to the Better Business Bureau. Otherwise, keep reading.

Contractors for home and property modifications and repairs worth more than $200 must be licensed under the DCWP. Through this system, NYC ensures that contractors follow standards and that citizens have less trouble with business. Look here to check if a contractor is licensed. If you encountered a contractor who is unlicensed with the DWCP, then you can submit a complaint to report an unlicensed contractor here to the city.

There are several wrongdoings a contractor might do to make them eligible for a complaint. Some of these include:

  • Being unlicensed under the DCWP

  • Overcharging for a job

  • Providing damaged products

  • Doing a poor or bad job

  • Contract disputes

  • False advertising

  • Damaged property

If the DCWP receives your tip and chooses to investigate, they can follow-up by choosing to take action against the contractor and having them pay a fine, have their license revoked, or pay money back to you. 

You must be a citizen of New York City to submit a complaint, but the contractor you’re complaining against does not need to be located in the city, just in the state of New York. If you live in New York but not in NYC, then another possible remedy for you could be to go directly to small claims court without filing a complaint against a contractor.

How to File a Complaint against a contractor with the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection:

  1. Head to the New York DCWP site to submit your complaint. Fill out with details such as why you’re sending your complaint, the address of the property that was worked on, your address, your email address, and relevant documents such as invoices and contracts (though this last part is optional it is highly recommended).

  2. Next you’ll need to receive and reply to a form sent afterwards to you by the DCWP. If you choose not to include an address, your tip will be considered anonymous. If you add an address but no email, the form will be mailed to you. If you added an address and an email, the form will be emailed.

What to do if no agreement is reached after you file a complaint with the DCWP? You may want to try filing a New York small claims lawsuit.

Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila is an attorney, consumer advocate, and certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

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