Complaint Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors
- How do I file a complaint?
- How do I check a contractor’s complaint history? How far back can I search for complaints?
- What information do I include with my complaint?
- Where do I send the complaint?
- What happens after I file a complaint?
- Does the contractor receive a copy of the complaint?
- What happens if the contractor does not respond to the complaint?
- What happens if the contractor does respond to the complaint?
- How long does an investigation take?
- Will an investigator come to my house?
- What is the purpose of an investigation?
- How do I benefit from filing a complaint?
- How can I contact my investigator?
- Can the board force the contractor to come to my house to fix my problems?
1. How do I file a complaint?
The first step in the complaint process is to complete and sign a written complaint form. Complaint forms are available online. You may also call the board at 410-230-6231 to request that a complaint form be mailed to you.
2. How do I check a contractor’s complaint history? How far back can I search for complaints?
Anyone may check a contractor's complaint history by calling the board, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at the following telephone number: 410-230-6231.
3. What information do I include with my complaint?
In addition to the specific information requested on the complaint form, you should attach a copy of the contract (front and back of all pages) and proof of payment to the contractor, such as copies of both sides of each check. In addition, please include any e-mails or other correspondence between you and the contractor. You may also include photographs or other evidence of the contractor's workmanship. You should also keep an original copy of all documents that you plan to send to the board.
4. Where do I send the complaint?
You may mail a complaint to Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation, Board of Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Contractors, 500 N. Calvert Street, Room 481, Baltimore, MD 21202.
5. What happens after I file a complaint?
After the board receives a complaint, board staff reviews it to make sure that the board has jurisdiction over the complaint, assigns it a complaint number, and sets up a file. The parties' contact information is entered into in the board database and the contractor's license information and complaint history are added to the file. In a week or two, a complaining witness may expect to receive a letter from HVACR board confirming receipt of the complaint.
6. Does the contractor receive a copy of the complaint?
After a complaint is reviewed by board staff, the contractor is sent a copy of the complaint along with a Notice of Complaint/Order to Respond. The property owner or complaining witness is also sent a copy of the Notice of Complaint/Order to Respond. This document notifies the contractor of the complaint and requests a written response to the complaint within 30 days. In addition to responding to the specific allegations contained in the complaint, the contractor is asked to provide a copy of all permits and inspections for the job.
7. What happens if the contractor does not respond to the complaint?
If a contractor does not respond to the Notice of Complaint, the board may, but is not obligated to, take administrative action against the individual based on the failure to respond to the board’s written request. The board may seek regulatory charges against the contractor and if the individual is found to have violated any applicable law or regulation, the board may impose an administrative sanction, including a reprimand or license suspension or revocation, or imposition of a civil monetary penalty of up to $5,000, if it finds that the contractor violated an applicable law or regulation by failing to respond in writing to the complaint.
8. What happens if the contractor does respond to the complaint?
Once a contractor responds in writing to a complaint, the board may refer the matter to an investigator. The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to support the allegations in a complaint and an actionable charge that the contractor violated an applicable law or regulation.
9. How long does an investigation take?
The board's goal is to complete each investigation as quickly as possible. Some investigations may take additional time, especially if a contractor or complaining witness does not provide all the necessary information.
10. Will an investigator come to my house?
Most likely, an investigator will not come to your house but may contact you to ask questions pertaining to your complaint. The property owner or complaining witness is responsible for providing contract documents, proof of payment, correspondence, relevant photographs, and other evidence to support the allegations in the complaint.
11. What is the purpose of an investigation?
The purpose of an investigation is to determine whether there is enough evidence to support a charge that the contractor violated an applicable law or regulation. The scope of an investigation is limited to answering the following questions: (1) Did the contractor perform the job in an unworkmanlike manner? (2) Did the contractor abandon the job without justification? (3) Did the contractor commit any other violation of applicable law or regulation? If the board believes a contractor may have violated an applicable law or regulation, the board may pursue regulatory charges against a contractor. However, the board does not pursue administrative action in response to each complaint received. Before a determination to pursue action against an individual, the file is reviewed by legal counsel, who determines whether there is sufficient legal and factual merit to pursue charges. The attorney may return the file to the investigator for further investigation; may draft a statement of charges; or the board may decline to pursue charges, in which case the complaint is closed. It is important to remember that an investigation is objective and that the board does not advocate for either a complaining witness or the contractor.
12. How do I benefit from filing a complaint?
The board cannot order the reimbursement of money or order a licensee to provide specific services or other relief. A complaining witness not directly benefit from the complaint process, which is aimed at protecting the public by upholding the professional standards of the HVACR industry in Maryland. However, in some cases, the filing of a complaint motivates a licensee to offer to resolve a complainant’s issue.
An individual may pursue a private civil action in court against a contractor instead of or in addition to filing a complaint against a contractor.
13. How can I contact my investigator?
Each investigator is assigned multiple boards’ complaints. Additionally, investigators are scheduled to appear in court throughout the state multiple times per week. Therefore, the best way to communicate with the investigator assigned to the complaint is by e-mail.
14. Can the board force the contractor to come to my house to fix my problems?
No, the board does not have authority to order a contractor to return to the property to correct or complete a job. However, many times a contractor is willing to fix items to resolve a complaint. The board's authority is limited to imposing an administrative sanction against a contractor, which may include a reprimand, license suspension or revocation, or a civil monetary penalty, after an administrative hearing.