What Consumers Should Look for and Ask About When Hiring a Tree Care Business, LTE or LTCO
The Board of Tree Experts urges all consumers to check the credentials and insurance of anyone they intend to let do tree work on their property. It is now mandatory to hire a tree care business that is registered with the state and has employed a Licensed Tree Expert or Licensed Tree Care Operator depending on the services they offer for hire. It is important to make sure that the person is qualified to do tree work and fully insured in case an accident happens. Incorrect tree work can predispose your trees to many future problems, including tree failure. In addition, many homeowner policies will not cover injuries or damage done by an under-insured tree care contractor, which may leave the financial burden on the homeowner.
Advertisement by a tree care company must include the business's NJTC registration number. Only the services a Registered Business has received approval for can be advertised. The public should know that there are many registrations and licenses the State of New Jersey offers. There are also many national and local organization's credentials that are offered as well. To do tree care business in New Jersey, a business needs to be registered with the Board of Tree Experts and employ at least one Licensed individual. The public can be misled by a general business license or a pesticide license. Consumers should ask to see a copy of the Company's Business Registration, its proper insurance coverage and the name and licensed number of the person in the company that is required licensed.
The New Jersey Board of Tree Experts (Board) takes its responsibilities seriously. Complaints can be submitted against a Tree Care Business (registered or unregistered) by using the Complaint Form - Tree Care Business or against a Licensee by using the Complaint Form - Licensee.
The Board will review the facts of the complaint and decide if an investigation is warranted by considering the following areas: professional ethics, wrongful conduct in the profession, improper practices and/or negligence. A letter will be sent to the person making the complaint acknowledging receipt of the letter.
A copy of the complaint will be forwarded to the licensee or business with a cover letter via certified mail. The cover letter from the Board will require the licensee or business to provide a detailed written response to the allegations in the complaint and this requested shall be fulfilled within one month of receiving the letter. The licensee or business is expected to submit all written documentation at this time in support of a rebuttal. If warranted, a site inspection by the Board or its agents will be made.
Once the response has been received, the Board will review and a disposition may be recommended. If the Board needs additional information, the licensee or business may be required to appear to answer questions concerning the matter. The Board will review information to decide if disciplinary action is warranted under the authority N.J.S.A. 45:15C-21 and N.J.S.A. 45:15C-24. The decision by the Board may be: no action, suspension of up to two years or revocation.
Be advised that any information you supply on the complaint form may be subject to public disclosure. If an investigation into the matter is conducted, the information is subject to public disclosure only after the completion of the investigation. You are also advised that the completed complaint form is a "government record," which the Board may be obligated to provide to anyone making a request pursuant to the Open Public Records Act (OPRA).
The disposition of the matter may take several months. Please understand that the Board can only take formal action if it finds sufficient basis that the licensee or business has violated State laws or regulations. If the Board determines that formal action is required, a notice of intent will be sent to the Licensee or Business. The letter of intent shall inform the Licensee or the Business the intended action to be taken and his/her or its right to request a formal hearing. The hearing process will be overseen by the Office of Administrative Law.
Until a final determination has been made, the Board is not permitted to disclose information regarding the matter. You will be notified in writing when a final determination has been made. This process can take a considerable period of time. A letter will be sent to the person who made the complaint explaining the action taken by the Board.