Stronger Licensing Laws for Oklahoma Roofers

Contractor fraud is something that has plagued disaster recovery zones for years. Individuals, posing as high-end professionals who are there to help, take advantage of unsuspecting people who are just trying to fix their storm-damaged houses. It happened along the Jersey shore for months after Hurricane Sandy, and the scam has seemingly made a home in the often tornado-plagued state of Oklahoma.

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Scammers move in almost immediately following the disaster, while homeowners are still struggling with the loss of their valuables, and reaching for any extended hand to help. Typically, these Oklahoma roofers will target the elderly or single moms who do not have the knowledge or time to properly vet one's credentials. Suddenly, a down payment is demanded and after receiving it, these individuals move right along to the next victim, never returning to complete (or sometimes even start) their work.

The Oklahoma Roofing Contractor Registration Act has been in place since 2010, and states that all companies that specialize in roofing must register with the Construction Industries Board and pay a $75 registration fee. When a complaint is filed with the board, it is forwarded to the local district attorney, who decides if prosecution is necessary. State Representative Jon Echols, a Republican from Oklahoma City, claims, however, that the board lacks investigative or enforcement power. According to Echols, "There is almost no regulation on this industry, and the legitimate contractors feel taken advantage of because they're playing by the rules while they're competing with other people who are not playing by the rules."

Echols wants to implement legislation that would allow the board to investigate claims and require roofing contractors to take a licensing test, not unlike those that general contractors have to take in Oklahoma now. According to Echols, "until the state establishes a proper investigative agency for roofing, consumers will not know who to call to file a complaint about fraudulent practices."

Echols has yet to discuss his proposed legislation with anyone who is opposed to the idea of testing for licenses or allowing the board to investigate claims. He added, "When you consider the size of the roofing industry in the state of Oklahoma and in all of the construction areas, it is the No. 1 cost from my constituents to their homeowners insurance. To me it doesn't make any sense."

With people like Echols fighting for stronger regulations, it's only a matter of time before homeowners see the effects of this fraud protection. In the meantime, anyone considering a major roof repair (in any circumstances) should do their research and always check the credentials of contractors before paying any money or signing anything. There are plenty of legitimate Oklahoma roofers who will more than meet expectations – and they'll do it without trying to take advantage of anyone!