Omaha's Contractor Licensing Ordinance in Court
Omaha, NE -- Hiring your buddy, Mister Fix-It, to do some work on your home may be illegal. It's a city ordinance that was passed almost two year ago, but it got heated Wednesday as the fight went to court.
An injunction hearing was scheduled to take place in Douglas County District Court Wednesday morning to stop Omaha’s Contractor Licensing Ordinance. Omaha City Code says if you take out any sort of a building permit to work on your home or property, you cannot hire an unlicensed contractor to do the work. A homeowner can make repairs on their own home without a license. Some property owners are upset that they have to hire a general contractor, or what they feel is a middle man, to get the work done.
John Malone Sr. is a rental property owner. He's fighting in court to stop the ordinance, he says makes landlords spend thousands of extra dollars and forces local utility crews to be licensed when they never had to before.
"What the city is lawlessly doing is turning vast numbers of working people into criminals. They're criminalizing work,” Malone explained. "I can't hire somebody to work on my house that a licensed contractor can hire to work on my house."
The ordinance was passed by the Omaha City Council in August 2011 and went into effect in September 2012. Since then landlords have had to hire someone with a license, but general contractors, who are licensed, can hire any workers to do the job. Paul Kimmons says its costing landlords too much since previously his clients could get permits to do the work themselves.
"He (client) has to give my plans to a contractor and then the contractor has to take them down, and therefore he lost the chance to get the lowest bid because he had to pick a contractor before he had the lowest bid. So now he has to spend more money on each project because he can't use the lowest bid," Kimmons described.
The City of Omaha says since the ordinance went into effect one change has already been made to change the requirements, and they are looking to see if any other revisions need to be made. They add that other cities have stricter regulations for contractor licensing. The court hearing, which was to grant a temporary injunction to stop the ordinance, was continued by Judge Marlon Polk and will be heard later this month.