Complaint Filing Overview PLEASE NOTE: To file a complaint against plumbers and irrigators, electricians, alarm businesses, telecommunications, hoisting engineers, and mechanical contractors, please contact the RI Department of Labor and Training. Who can a complaint be filed against? A homeowner may file a complaint against a contractor who performed work on their home. A complaint can also be filed against those professionals the CRLB licenses. Complaints cannot be filed on work conducted on commercial properties. The list of contractors includes, but is not limited to carpenters, siding installers, roofers, foundation installers, drywall installers, plasterers, insulation installers, ceramic tile installers, floor covering installers, swimming pool installers, masons, painters, chimney installers and fireplace installers. Subcontractors and contractors may also file complaints against each other so long as the complainant is registered with the SBO. To file a complaint against plumbers and irrigators, electricians, alarm businesses, telecommunications, hoisting engineers, and mechanical contractors, please contact the RI Department of Labor and Training. What should a complaint contain? A complaint may contain allegations that the contractor performed negligent or improper work, breached a contract, took money and performed no work, or has violated the laws & regulations that pertain to the contracting profession. How long can a complaint be filed for? Complaints must be filed no later than one (1) year after the date the work is completed. Complaints filed outside of this time frame cannot be accepted. A complaint has been submitted, what happens next? The SBO undertakes a multi-step process when a complaint is filed. Generally, an inspector will be assigned to investigate the validity of the complaint, will document findings, for the purpose of determining if statutory and/or regulatory violations have occurred, and if so, will issue violations and assess fines against the contractor. While in those instances where the parties are working together toward a consensual resolution, the SBO may assist to facilitate that, the SBO will not adjudicate complainant claims, causes of action, rights or remedies, contractual or otherwise, or order the payment of monetary damages or equitable remedies. Parties should consult their legal advisors as to their rights and applicable deadlines to pursue civil action and other remedies in the court system. Can the SBO award damages to complainants? The primary purpose of the complaint process is to protect the public against dishonest or incompetent practitioners by disciplining violators and suspending or revoking the registration of repeat offenders. Penalties issued by the SBO protect the public by discouraging future violations by the registrant, rehabilitating the registrant, and promoting compliance by other registrants. The SBO cannot order a contractor to pay monetary damages to a complainant. The complaint process is not designed to redress violations by the recovery of money damages to compensate persons harmed by the registrant’s conduct. This is a function of the courts. However, a contractor may agree to restitution or reimbursement in a consent agreement, facilitated by the SBO. We may work with complainants and contractors to facilitate a settlement agreement. The agreement may provide for repairs, completion of work, and/or the payment of monies to the homeowner. If a deposit was paid and no work was conducted, and no supplies were paid, the SBO can order a return of deposit, since this is not considered an award of damages. The parties were unable to reach an agreement, what happens next? The complainant always has the right to bring a civil action in the State Court. If successful there, the complainant could be awarded treble damages, reasonable attorney fees, and court costs. Complainants should consult their legal advisors as to their rights and applicable deadlines to pursue civil action and other remedies in the court system. If an agreement cannot be reached, does this mean nothing happens to the contractor? No. If a notice of violation was issued, the SBO will still pursue regulatory action against the contractor which may include fines and disciplinary action and could result in the suspension or revocation of their registration or license. Does the law provide a victim fund? There is no fund to compensate a consumer who has been wronged by a contractor, remodeler, or subcontractor. Filing a complaint Complaints must be submitted via our online complaint form. Please provide pertinent information and upload all requested documents. Once submitted, the complaint will be reviewed to ensure it is complete and falls within the jurisdiction of the State Building Office (“SBO”). Please note: All communication is conducted through this portal, so please monitor email for correspondence.