Automotive repair facilities, including automotive glass repair and replacement companies, are required to be licensed in the city of Houston. Even if a company if based outside Houston, if its representatives enter the city to do work, they must be licensed, according to Lieutenant Dana Hitzman of the Houston Police Department.
“The problem is that no one wants to pay for a license,” says Deborah Hernandez of Able Auto Glass in Houston. “Anybody who touches a vehicle—such as removing and replacing glass—needs to be licensed in Houston. Even mobile-only companies need to be licensed. But it seems like it is hard to catch the mobile companies who are not licensed.”
The Texas legislature gave municipalities the authority to license and regulate businesses in 1945. Houston requires licenses for many automotive-oriented businesses, such as new and used vehicle dealers, vehicle storage facilities and AGRR businesses.
“Both mobile and physical automotive glass repair and replacement companies need to licensed,” says Hitzman, who works in the Auto Detail—Vehicle Theft Division of the Houston Police Department, which is responsible for licensing and regulation of automotive-related businesses.
“Licensing has evolved over the years to include automotive glass repair and replacement companies. I’m not sure when they were added,” she says.
An annual license costs $490 and a renewal is $470, she points out.
“To obtain a license the company owner must undergo a background check, both state and national, as well as sign something called a deed restriction. This means they are in compliance with the deed restriction they are in [such as in a deed that allows vehicle repair on the property],” Hitzman explains. “They must also submit corporate papers. And we check with the secretary of state to ensure the corporation is in good standing.”
The license must be approved by the Houston automotive board. Members of this board include used-car dealers, new-car dealers, storage owners and a citizen who is not associated with the automotive industry.
“If they have something come up on the criminal background check, such as a violation, we can technically deny them a license but they can appeal this decision and go before the automotive board to explain their case,” says Hitzman. “The board decides whether to continue to deny the company a license, or it can override the ordinance and allow them a license.”
Say the owner is convicted of fraud or misrepresentation, this could concern a citizen who wants to do business with the company, Hitzman notes.
“The violation and reason for it is something the board will take into consideration and decide to approve or deny a license on a case-by-case basis. If it’s something small, such as writing a bad check, when they were 18 years old, the board could approve the individual for a license,” she says.
More than 8,000 automotive-related companies are licensed to work in Houston; however, Hitzman is not sure how many of those are AGRR companies.
She works in a small unit that has 15 officers who are charged with regulating the licenses.
“It can be an overwhelming task,” she explains. “We’ve tried to put processes in place to keep up with the companies. Citizens and other licensed businesses can send reports and complaints to us. Every officer is assigned a specific area of town.”
If the unit discovers a company that is not licensed but should be, Hitzman says their first response is education.
“We realize that a lot of businesses just don’t know the laws,” she points out. “When the officer finds an unlicensed business, the officer will educate the business owner and give them a certain amount to time to come into compliance—usually two weeks to 30 days. Then the officer might take further action if the business makes no effort to comply. But we always try education first. If education does not work, the officer will turn to citations. If the business is licensed and we find rat harborage and education and citations do not work, we will bring that business before the automotive board and ask that their license be suspended or removed.
“We work with the companies. If they show us they are making progress working towards what we ask of them, we will show patience. However, if businesses are blatantly non-compliant, we will issue citations. These are basically municipal citations and depending on the violation can range from $250 to $500,” according to Hitzman.
If someone is not licensed and would like to learn how to begin the process, Hitzman invites them to call 832/394-4800. Company owners can also learn more by clicking here.
Hernandez hopes all AGRR businesses that work in the Houston area get licensed. She renews her company’s license every year.