Landscaper Must Have Proper License to Recover Damages for Breach of Contract

Hakimi v. Cantwell Landscaping & Design, Inc., 855 N.Y.S.2d 273 (N.Y. App. Div. 2008)

Hakimi filed a breach of contract claim against Cantwell stemming from landscaping work performed on the property where Hakimi was having a new home built.  Cantwell admitted that it was not licensed as a home improvement contractor at the time it did the work.  In response to the lawsuit suit, Cantwell filed a mechanic’s lien and a notice of pendency against Hakimi’s property.  Cantwell claimed that it did not need a home improvement contractor’s license because Hakimi was building a new house and the administrative code exempted new home construction from the home improvement licensing requirements.  Hakimi moved to dismiss Cantwell’s counterclaims and the Supreme Court denied the motion.

The Appellate Division reversed the order of the Supreme Court, holding that the code’s plain language did not exempt Cantwell’s landscaping work because Cantwell was not involved in the construction of the home itself.  Because Cantwell lacked the proper license for the work, it was unable to foreclose on the mechanic’s lien or recover damages for breach of contract.

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