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How to Verify a Professional's License in New York City?

Ensuring that you hire the right professional in New York City is a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. The licensing and registration of qualified New York City professionals is handled at both the city and state level. For example, the NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (formerly referred to as the Department of Consumer Affairs) licenses over 59,000 businesses across more than 50 industries in the city, including the home improvement and construction industry. Some professionals in this industry, such as master electricians, master plumbers, welders, and contractors that wish to work on new buildings or perform certain types of alterations on existing structures, are also required to undergo additional licensing or registration with the city's Department of Buildings. Alternatively, New York City professionals like architects, dentists, interior designers, physicians, land surveyors, engineers, and landscape architects, are licensed at the state level by the New York State Office of Professions.

You can verify the licensing or registration status of a city-licensed or registered New York City professional online via the search portals provided by the Department of Consumer and Worker Protection and Department of Buildings. State-issued professional licenses can also be verified online via the state's Office of Professions' verification searches webpage. Note that if your reason for hiring a professional is to handle a construction and home improvement-related project, you may be required to obtain a permit issued by the Department of Buildings through its borough offices. Queries concerning NYC building permit requirements can be directed to (212) 566-5000.

Do New York City Neighborhood Councils
Issue Permits?

There are 51 council districts in New York City and every neighborhood in the city belongs to one of these districts. Each district elects a representative to the New York City Council, which is the city's legislative body and is responsible for introducing and voting on laws that affect any aspect of NYC life. You can find out your neighborhood's council district and get details on your council member by utilizing the city council's online map.

While the New York City Council does not issue home improvement or construction work permits, some of its duties involve reviewing land use and zoning within the city. In June 2021, the city council voted to allow the use of racial and ethnic impact studies in NYC land use and rezoning processes. However, this law does not go into effect until June 2022 and will not affect Mayor Bill de Blasio's rezoning plan for the Gowanus neighborhood. Likewise, a city bill sponsored by Brooklyn council member Stephen Levin raising the value of rental assistance programs for New Yorkers is expected to take effect by September 2021.

How to File an Unfair Business
Complaint in New York City?

The NYC Department of Consumer and Worker Protection (DCWP) is responsible for enforcing the city's consumer protection law and you can file grievances concerning the actions of a New York City professional or business with this agency. Complaints can be filed online via the NYC311 portal. Note that the DCWP will consider your complaint a tip if you do not provide your contact information when making consumer complaints online. Alternatively, you can file a complaint with the DCWP by completing and submitting two copies of a complaint form, along with copies of any relevant documents, via fax to (212) 487-4482 or mail-in to:

  • NYC Department of Consumer Affairs
  • Consumer Services Division
  • 42 Broadway
  • 9th Floor
  • New York, NY 10004

Complaints received by the DCWP are reviewed and either returned to the complainant along with contact information for an appropriate agency that is better suited to handle the matter or docketed for mediation. During the mediation process, the DCWP will contact both you and the defaulting business or professional to get a better understanding of the situation and come up with an agreeable solution to the matter. However, if a suitable agreement cannot be reached, then the complaint will either be forwarded to the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings or you may be advised to seek redress through a New York City Small Claims Court. Note that NYC Small Claims Courts only hear civil cases that involve $10,000 or less. It is advisable to retain the services of a lawyer if you decide to proceed with this option.