Registrar of Contractor Complaints
The Arizona Registrar of Contractors is the administrative agency that licenses and regulates contractors in Arizona. The Registrar has the authority to suspend or revoke a contractor’s license. Therefore all complaints filed with the Registrar must be taken seriously and responded to promptly.
A complaint with the Registrar is typically initiated when another contractor or property owner files a complaint with the Registrar. When this happens, the Registrar will send a copy of the complaint to the contractor and will also assign an inspector to investigate the complaint.
If a physical inspection is necessary, the inspector will schedule a meeting on the job site with the complainant and the contractor. If the inspector does not find any violations, the complaint will be closed. If violations are found and the inspector determines that remedial work is required, then the inspector will issue a Corrective Work Order (“CWO”) or what is now being called a written directive. Most complaints will be resolved at this stage.
If the CWO has not been complied with, the next step is a formal Citation and Complaint (“Citation”) issued by the Registrar. The contractor must timely file an answer to the Citation, at which point the Registrar will refer the case over to the Office of Administrative hearings for a formal hearing.
Administrative hearings are similar to formal court proceedings. The administrative law judge usually begins by explaining the hearing process, which is followed by opening statements of the parties. After opening statements, the Registrar, who is represented by the attorney general, will present its case which usually includes testimony by the inspector that was assigned to the case. After the Registrar presents its case, the contractor will present its witnesses and documents for its defense.
The judge will not typically rule at the hearing but will issue a formal written opinion within a few weeks following the hearing. Sometimes the judge will allow the contractor additional time to comply with the CWO to prevent a suspension or revocation, but not in every case.
After the judge issues its ruling, the contractor has the right to request a rehearing and also to file an appeal to the Arizona Superior Court. Once an appeal is filed, the contractor can request the Superior Court judge to issue a stay of any revocation or suspension which the judge will typically grant. This allows the contractor to continue contracting while the appeal is pending.
It is best not to handle an ROC complaint without an attorney. Many contractors are not equipped to handle an ROC hearing and are not familiar with what needs to be done to prepare a case that is persuasive to the administrative law judge. More importantly, an experienced attorney can provide you with practical advice as to which issues are worth fighting and which are not. All too often contractors head into a hearing certain that they are right in their ways, only to realize later that they would have been better off resolving the complaint early on.