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Perth homeowners are being urged to say no to roof painting /repair men knocking on doors.

Reports have been received of men door-knocking and convincing homeowners that urgent roof repairs are required. They then charge exorbitant rates and either do not carry out the work or perform a sub-standard job. The men, with either Irish, Scottish or English accents, provided an invoice under the unregistered business name of Best Choice Home Improvements using a false ABN. They were driving a red SUV. Sadly Seniors are among those who’ve been targeted.

And there have been a number of recent cases reported?

Yes, an 83-year-old Hamilton Hill woman paid the scammers $7,500 in cash to repair her roof. When they knocked on her door, the scammers said her roof needed repairs and painting and quoted her $3,000. They later advised that asbestos sheets had to be replaced and that would cost an extra $4,500. The small amount of work carried out was sub-standard.

An elderly man from Mount Hawthorn has reported paying $8,000 to the same scammers who approached him in his driveway and came back to the home the next day to carry out roofing work. They accepted a card payment but luckily the man’s bank flagged the transaction as suspicious and it failed to go through.

A consumer in Cannington was approached by men driving a similar vehicle who claimed that they were roof tilers and said there was a hole in his roof that needed repairing. One of the men went up on the roof and returned with a broken tile which the consumer believes was broken off by the conman. The offer to fix the roof was declined by the home owner who had to fix the damage caused.

Another consumer was approached at his home by three men in a white utility wearing fluoro shirts who told him that his roof and gutters needed urgent repairs. The dodgy door knockers pretended to carry out some work and charged $7,000, but it was later discovered that they had damaged the roof instead of repairing it.

In a fifth report, an elderly couple in Fremantle said they were approached in a similar way and the scammers were coming back to begin the work but a family member stepped in to prevent the work going ahead.

 How can the community help to stop these travelling conmen?

These conmen are highly mobile so if you’re approached you should contact Police on 131 444 immediately so they can be tracked down. Descriptions of the men and their vehicles, as well as licence plate numbers, would assist us greatly in locating them. If they have already left – contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or submit an online report and provide as much info as possible about them and their vehicle. Home owners who may have CCTV vision of the men at their home, even if they didn’t get any work done, are urged to come forward and provide the vision to Police. Advice can also be provided by Consumer Protection by emailing or calling 1300 30 40 54.

And legally what are they doing wrong?

They are breaking the Australian Consumer Law by not allowing a cooling off period for door to door sales. Roof painters must be registered under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011.

They prey on seniors and others in our community, misleading them into thinking their roof is in need of urgent repairs or painting when this is not necessarily the case. They then do dodgy work, if they do any work at all.

These men are using various names of well-known and reputable local companies, attempting to gain credibility by stealing the identity of legitimate local businesses. What we observe is that genuine businesses in WA do not solicit door to door for roof repairs and we recommend people refuse to deal with them and only deal with registered builders and businesses.

 So what tips do you have for hiring tradespeople?

We appeal to people approached by these door to door scammers to reject them completely and always get reputable tradespeople and multiple quotes before agreeing to any work being carried out. Anyone considering expensive work for projects such as roof repairs should shop around and use reputable local tradespeople. Check the credentials of the business before signing any contracts or handing over any money. Ask for references, inspect previous work and carry out an internet search of the business name to see if positive or negative comments arise.

What do people need to know about their right to a ‘cooling off period’?

Consumer laws require uninvited ‘itinerant’ traders to provide a copy of the agreement and they must allow a 10 business day cooling off period for jobs worth more than $100, during which time they are not allowed to accept any payments or carry out any work. Even if consumers have invited a tradesperson to their home to provide a quote, the cooling off period still applies.

The Home Building Contracts Act sets out the minimum requirements for contracts and applies to the home building and associated work valued between $7,500 and $500,000.

If the value of the building or associated work is between $7,500 and $500,000, the contract must be in writing and be signed by both the owner and the builder.

The contract cannot provide for the builder to receive a deposit of more than 6.5 per cent of the total value of the work. Once the work has started, the builder must not demand or accept payment for work that has not been performed or materials that have not been supplied.

Home owners can protect themselves from entering into a non-complying contract by ensuring they receive and fully understand the information in the prescribed ‘Notice for the home owner’ before they sign the contract.

This notice summarises the requirements of the Home Building Contracts Act and should be provided to the owner by the builder. More information is available at www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission.

Anyone who is approached by tradespeople offering their services door-to-door and wanting immediate payment or to carry out work straight away should report the details to Consumer Protection either by phoning 1300 30 40 54 or by emailing consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au.

 

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