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Complaint Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) - Plumbing

  1. How do I check a plumber’s complaint history?
  2. How do I file a complaint?
  3. Who can file a complaint?
  4. Can a complaint be filed against an unlicensed person?
  5. How long does the complaint process take?
  6. What type of supporting documentation is needed when filing a complaint?
  7. Can I file a complaint against a plumber located outside of Maryland?
  8. Does the Plumbing Board have a guaranty fund?
  9. When a complaint is filed against a plumber, are they automatically penalized?
  10. What happens if the Plumbing Board files regulatory charges based on my complaint?
  11. If there is a hearing based upon my complaint, do I need to appear at the hearing?
  12. Are complaints part of the public record?
  13. Can the Plumbing Board order the plumber to fix my problems at my property?
  14. If a complaint was filed, but I no longer wish to proceed, how do I go about closing it?
  15. Can a copy of the plumber’s responses to a complaint be given to the complainant(s)?
  16. What options do I have if my complaint is dismissed?

1. How do I check a plumber’s complaint history?
Anyone may check a licensed plumber’s complaint history by calling the State Board of Plumbing, Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., at the following telephone numbers: 1-888-218-5925 (toll-free) or 410-230-6321 (Baltimore area), e-mail to DLOPLplumbing-LABOR@maryland.gov, or visit the Plumbing website. Complaints closed within the last three fiscal years are reportable to the public.

2. How do I file a complaint?
Please complete and sign a written complaint form. Complaint forms are available online, or by visiting the State Board of Plumbing. You may also call the State Board of Plumbing at 410-230-6231 (Baltimore area) or 1-888-218-5925 (toll-free) to request that a complaint form be mailed to you.

3. Who can file a complaint?
Any person can file a complaint against an unlicensed or licensed individual offering, providing, or assisting in providing plumbing and gas services in Maryland. For complaints involving plumbing work done in either Baltimore County or the area served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), including Prince George’s and portions of Montgomery Counties, the complaint should be directed to one of those agencies.

4. Can a complaint be filed against an unlicensed person?
Yes, you may file a complaint against an unlicensed or licensed individual who offers, provides, or assists in providing plumbing and gas services in areas of Maryland under the jurisdiction of the Board. If the complaint involves plumbing or gas services offered or provided in Baltimore County or an area served by the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), including Prince George’s and portions of Montgomery Counties, the complaint should be directed to one of those agencies.

5. How long does the complaint process take?
The complaint process can take up to 30 days or more. However, each complaint varies and, in some cases, complaints are resolved within a year.

6. What type of supporting documentation is needed when filing a complaint?
All complaints must be submitted with the following documentation: complaint form, complete contract of sale, addendums (if any), copies of e-mails or any other forms of correspondence, photographs, receipts for estimates or repairs completed, and proof of payment. It is the Complainant’s responsibility to provide documentation to support the allegations in the complaint.

7. Can I file a complaint against a plumber located outside of Maryland?
As long as an individual is licensed by the Board and the property at which the plumbing or gas services were provided is located in Maryland, a complaint can be considered by the Maryland State Board of Plumbing. However, the Board has no jurisdiction to consider a complaint involving the property located outside the state of Maryland.

8. Does the Plumbing Board have a guaranty fund?
No. The Board has no authority to order a plumber to reimburse or return funds to an individual. However, an individual may file a private civil case with the appropriate court for relief.

9. When a complaint is filed against a plumber, are they automatically penalized?
No. When a complaint is opened, a property owner (“Complainant”) is notified in writing and a copy of the complaint is sent to the plumber (“Respondent”) to allow the individual the opportunity to respond to the allegations raised in the complaint. Once a response is received, the complaint is then referred to the Board’s Complaint Committee for review. At that time, the Complaint Committee may refer the complaint to an investigator to determine what violations, if any, occurred. If evidence has been produced that supports a regulatory charge, the Board may pursue regulatory action against the individual. If the Board cannot be certain from the information provided in the comment that a violation occurred, the Board must close the complaint.

10. What happens if the Plumbing Board files regulatory charges based on my complaint?
If the Plumbing Board files regulatory charges against a contractor, then the contractor receives a copy of the Statement of Charges and a hearing notice. Hearings are usually conducted by at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). If the ALJ finds that a contractor violated an applicable law or regulation, the ALJ may recommend, and the Board may impose an administrative sanction against an individual, which can include a civil monetary penalty up to a maximum of $5,000, a reprimand of a licensee, or the suspension or revocation of a license issued by the Board. In some cases, the contractor may enter into a consent agreement and agree to a specified sanction in lieu of proceeding with a formal hearing.

11. If there is a hearing based upon my complaint, do I need to appear at the hearing?
Yes, whenever the Board holds a regulatory hearing, it is necessary for the individual(s) who filed the complaint to appear and testify as the Board’s witness in support of the allegations contained in the complaint. If a Complainant fails to participate at a hearing, the regulatory charges against the contractor may be dismissed and the complaint will be closed.

12. Are complaints part of the public record?
Yes, the existence of a complaint may be disclosed to a member of the public. Complaints remain part of the plumber’s public record for three fiscal years.

13. Can the Plumbing Board order the plumber to fix my problems at my property?
No, the Board does not have the authority to order a plumber to return to a particular property or to otherwise provide services to an individual to correct, repair, or provide specific services. However, many times a plumber is willing to provide such services in an effort to resolve the complaint.

14. If a complaint was filed, but I no longer wish to proceed, how do I go about closing it?
Please send a letter to the Maryland Department of Labor, Maryland State Board of Plumbing, 500 N. Calvert Street, Room 481, Baltimore, MD 21202; e-mail DLOPLplumbing-LABOR@maryland.gov; or fax 410-244-0977 stating that you no longer wish to move forward with your complaint, provide the reasons therefore, and you will receive a letter in the mail indicating that your complaint has been closed.

15. Can a copy of the plumber’s responses to a complaint be given to the complainant(s)?
A complete copy of the complaint, responses included, can be given to the complainant(s) once the complaint has been fully adjudicated or otherwise resolved, but not beforehand.

16. What options do I have if my complaint is dismissed?
If a complaint is dismissed, you have the right to pursue a private cause of action in district or circuit court.