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How to File a Complaint Against a Contractor in Texas

Claudia Diaz - Contractors - January 20, 2023

Start by sending a contractor a demand letter.

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Are you currently dealing with a dispute against a contractor over a breach of contract, nonperformance, or bad workmanship? Consider filing a complaint against a contractor with Texas state agencies or other organizations discussed in the article below. This article also discusses alternatives to filing a complaint, including suing a contractor in Texas Justice Court

Common Reasons to File a Complaint Against A Contractor 

There are several reasons to file a complaint against a contractor. Some of the common reasons include: 

  • Overcharging for a service or replacement parts.

  • Bad workmanship.  For example, you hired a contractor to build a deck in your backyard, and after the first use, the deck breaks. 

  • Property damage. For example, you hired a contractor to replace your windows, and they break the window glass. 

  • Unfinished work. For example, you hired a plumber to fix the sinks in your two-story house, but they only fix the bathroom sinks on the first floor. 

  • Not performing as per a contract or agreement. 

Do Contractors Have to be Licensed in Texas? 

Texas doesn’t require general contractors to be state licensed. However, some cities may have their own licensing requirements. Check with your local city government for additional licensing requirements in your area. 

Further, some industries are regulated and do require contractors to hold a license to do specific work on your home. For example, contractors that install, repair, or maintain systems related to air conditioning, refrigeration, or heatingmay need specific licenses to do this type of work on your home. If you hire a general contractor, but they did work on your home without the required licenses, you may want to consider filing a complaint with one of the Texas organizations listed below. 

File a Complaint With the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation

The Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, known as the TDLR, is a government agency in Texas that gives out licenses and monitors business practices in Texas. 

The TDLR currently oversees over twenty types of businesses, industries, trades, and occupations. The TDLR also has a comprehensive complaint resolution system that includes the investigation of consumer complaints. The TDLR has to power to enforce sanctions (like suspending an individual’s professional license) and issue monetary fines.  

How to find licensing requirements on the TDLR website 

The TDLR discusses licensing for different types of contractors that work in industries regulated by the TDLR. Note, the industry you are looking for may not be regulated by the TDLR, so you may have to file a complaint with a different consumer protection agency.

Below are some steps you can follow to find licensing information on the TDLR website:  

  • Go to the License Types tab at the top of the TDLR home page

  • Click on the regulated industry that pertains to your situation. For example, if you want to know if the electrician you hired is required to have a license, you would click Electricians.   

  • Once you are on the specific License Type page, look through either the Frequently Asked Questions tab on the side of the page or check the Laws & Administrative Rules tab to see the licensing requirements for that industry. For example, if you go to the Electricians Laws & Administrative Rules tab, you will see Texas Occupations Code Chapter 1305, which states under sec. 1305.151, “except as provided by Section 1305.003, a person or business may not perform or offer to perform electrical work or residential appliance installation unless the person or business holds an appropriate license issued or recognized under this chapter.” 

Here are a few things to know before you start a complaint:

  • You can file a complaint against a licensed or unlicensed contractor with the TDLR, as long as the TDLR regulates the industry the contractor you want to file a complaint against works in. 

  • All information submitted may be made public or shared with the contractor you are complaining against.

  • Information such as your address and details of the complaint are required. Other required information includes details of the person or business you’re filing against, dates when the work was done, and the amount of money paid.

  • Supporting documents are extremely useful, but not required. These include receipts, invoices, photographs, reports, advertisements from the contractor, or contracts.

  • It is possible to send the complaint anonymously by leaving section B of the form blank. But in that case, you won’t receive automatic status updates and more. 

To submit a complaint: 

  1. Go to the link here and follow the steps for how to file a complaint against a licensed or unlicensed contractor. Not sure if the contractor you are filing a complaint against is licensed? Search for licensed contractors using the TDLR Active License Search here.  

  2. After clicking on the link above, you will be directed to a list of industries regulated under the TDLR. You will need to choose which type of contractor you’re complaining about. Choose the option that best suits you, and if you’re unsure what the right choice is, then contact the TDLR support at 1-800-803-9202 for help filling out the form. 

  3. From there, fill out the form with all the information.

  4. If you choose to send supporting documents, then mail them to TDLR, P.O. Box 12157, Austin, Texas 78711. The documents can also be faxed to (512)539-5698. Remember not to send the original documents, as the TDLR will electronically save a copy of them but will destroy the physical copy.

After you submit the complaint, you will receive a tracking number to monitor the complaint’s status, and, if you didn’t choose to remain anonymous, you will get automatic status updates. 

File a Complaint With the Texas Attorney General 

The Texas Attorney General is the top legal officer in Texas. The Office of the Texas Attorney General has a Consumer Protection Division that handles complaints against businesses that are engaging in unfair or unlawful business practices. For example, if the contractor you hired asked you to pay in full before working on your home and never shows up to do any work, file a consumer complaint with the Texas Attorney General. 

Learn how to file a consumer complaint with the Texas Attorney General here. 

File a Complaint With the Better Business Bureau 

The Better Business Bureau (also known as the BBB) serves as an intermediary between businesses and consumers. The BBB allows consumers to file complaints against all types of businesses, including contractors. 

How to submit your complaint against a contractor on the BBB website: 

  1. Click here to go to the Better Business Bureau website.

  2. Review the BBB criteria, then scroll down and click the button “File Your Complaint.”

How the complaint process works: 

  • After you file a complaint against the contractor, the BBB will forward the complaint to the contractor within 2 business days.

  • The contractor will have 14 days to respond to your complaint.  

  • You will then be notified of the contractor’s response when the BBB receives it (or notified that they received no response). 

The BBB also allows consumers to file reviews against businesses on their website here and click the bottom that says “Start Review Process.”

Alternatives to Filing a Complaint Against a Contractor

Communicate Directly With the Contractor

You may also want to consider trying to resolve any issues directly with the contractor. Contractors don’t want to have a bad reputation in the community as that is bad for business. If you have a problem with a contractor that did work on your home, try to message them or call them to discuss ways to resolve the problem.  

Send a Demand Letter 

If you have tried talking directly with the contractor and haven’t received a response, we recommend sending a demand letter. A demand letter is a letter that outlines a set of requests you want the contractor to perform. For example, if the contractor overcharged you on a home renovation project, you can request a refund in your demand letter. A demand letter also serves as notice to the contractor that if they don’t meet your demands, you intend to sue them.

Here are some other good reasons to send a demand letter to a contractor: 

  • If you are claiming the contractor misrepresented their services and want to file a small claims lawsuit under the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (DTPA), you will need to send written notice to the contractor at least 60 days prior to filing a lawsuit. By sending a demand letter, you are completing this requirement.

  • A demand letter signals to the contractor that you are serious about getting your money back and that you are willing to take action. 

  • The most important reason to send a demand letter is that you may be able to resolve your dispute without having to go to court. 

File a Small Claims Lawsuit Against the Contractor

If you filed a complaint against a contractor and have yet to resolve your dispute, it may be time to consider filing a small claims lawsuit against the contractor in Texas Justice Court

Texas Justice Court handles a variety of different small claims cases, including cases against contractors for breach of contract, nonperformance, and more. Texas Justice Courts are affordable and user-friendly courts designed to help people resolve their disputes quickly and efficiently.

Author

Claudia Diaz

Legal Educator @ People Clerk. Claudia holds a J.D. degree and is a certified mediator in New York and Florida. She has participated in dozens of small claims mediations in New York City courts.

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