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How to Verify a Professional's License in Miami?
Hiring the right professional helps you avoid a number of financial and legal issues including home improvement scams, potential court cases, and statutory penalties. The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) is responsible for issuing over 15 types of professional licenses in Miami, and as a resident of the city, you must always ensure that the professional you intend to hire is not just competent but also eligible to work in the city. To make sure of this, you should ask the professional if they are licensed by the DBPR and verify their status using the DBPR's online license search portal. Per state law, hiring a professional that is not licensed in Miami may result in a civil penalty of $5, 000 or more. Secondly, you must find out if the particular profession is also licensed or registered at the county and city levels where applicable. For example, building professionals such as contractors and tradesmen are mandatorily required to obtain a license from the Miami Dade County Contractor Licensing Section to provide their services in Miami and other cities within the county. Likewise, building contractors in Miami are also mandatorily required to register with Miami's Building Department.
Upon verifying the professional's license status, you must also ensure that this individual has obtained the necessary permits for the job. Doing this helps you avoid sanctions from local authorities. For example, starting a home improvement or construction work in Miami without obtaining a building permit is punishable by a fine of $110. In addition to this, defaulters will pay twice the initial application fee for obtaining a residential building permit, and four times the initial application fee for obtaining a commercial building permit. The Miami Building Department handles the issuance of building permits in the city. Queries concerning building permits can be directed to (305) 416 - 1100.
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Miami is divided into five districts and each of the districts elects a commissioner to represent all the neighborhoods in the district at the city council. You can find out the district your neighborhood belongs to, as well as the commissioner representing the district, using the city's online map tool. In addition to electing a commissioner to represent all the neighborhoods in a district, residents of each neighborhood also form several associations like homeowners associations and neighborhood associations. While neighborhood and homeowners associations in Miami do not issue permits for home improvement and construction work, they advocate for their communities on a variety of development matters. For example, the Coconut Grove Village West homeowners association supported the construction of a hotel in the West Grove area of the neighborhood, which would, in turn, contribute about $150,000 to help repair public houses and apartments in the neighborhood. Likewise, the Miami Shenandoah Neighborhood Association supported the neighborhood homeowners agreement to end the unscrupulous demolition of historical homes in the neighborhood.
Complaints concerning business practices that violate any of the city's code of ordinances can be filled with the Miami Code Compliance Office by calling (305) 416 - 2087. In addition to this, residents of Miami can file consumer complaints involving unfair business practices with the Miami Dade County Office of Consumer Protection online or by calling (786) 469 2333. Finally, business complaints that involve allegations of criminal offenses like theft and vandalism can be reported to the Miami Police Department online or by calling (305) 603 - 6640. You can also visit the nearest police station to your neighborhood to report the incident.
These agencies typically respond to consumer complaints via methods like investigation, arbitration, mediation, and imposition of statutory penalties where necessary. For example, violating any of Miami's business codes after a warning from the city manager can result in punitive damages of up to $1, 050. However, residents of Miami must understand that reporting a business complaint to any of these agencies does not guarantee that they will recover any funds lost to the business. However, residents who seek full recovery can also take civil action against the business, and matters involving claims of up to $8,000 can be filed in a Miami Dade County Small Claims Court.