Homeowners in Brent are asked to be aware that rogue builders are operating in the borough. Brent Council's Trading Standards team have had a number of complaints recently that rogue traders are knocking on doors and offering to carry out building work or repairs which are often unnecessary and usually overpriced.
Once rogue traders have gained someone's trust and started work they often begin to demand much larger sums of money, become aggressive and effectively hold the victim to ransom over unfinished or sub-standard work. Some traders who go door-to-door are also often responsible for distraction burglary and once they have their foot in door they can often take cash or valuables from properties.
The latest case investigation by Brent involved an elderly couple from Wembley being offered roofing services by a doorstep cold caller. Initially quoted £20 to replace a few missing roof tiles, the homeowners were soon facing a demand for more than £40,000 after the builders started stripping their roof of tiles and as the amount of work to carry out the repairs increased.
Fortunately for the couple involved Trading Standards immediately responded to intervene on their behalf and prevent further money being paid as demanded by the rogue builder.
Trading Standards introduced the homeowners to Brent's Building Control Manager who confirmed the works had be carried out contravening the legal requirements. The rogue builders had incorrectly advised the victims, that no planning or building control rules applied and that if they did, he would sort them out.
Trading Standards were able to advise the couple that the builders had potentially broken the law by not providing notice of the consumer's right to cancel the contract within fourteen days. If the notice is not given then the cancellation period can be extended by up to 12 months in addition to breaching other legislation caused by their intimidating behaviour and misleading the victims about the work that was required.
The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, said:
"Without the help of Brent's Trading Standards team we're not sure how we would have coped financially and health wise. The stress and anxiety over the last few days has been immeasurable and you have taken so much weight off our shoulders.
"We now feel that with the Council's help, support and advice we are able to move forward and have the re-roofing of our house completed by reputable roofers."
Councillor Tom Miller, Cabinet Member for Stronger Communities, said:
"I'm shocked that these sorts of scams are taking place in our communities and I am pleased Trading Standards were able to help this couple. Rogue builders who prey on vulnerable residents are despicable, deceiving homeowners out of thousands of pounds for shoddy, incomplete or even unnecessary works.. We will continue to do everything we can to prevent residents from becoming the victims of rogue traders."
Homeowners are advised that if they are considering building work not to agree to have work undertaken by cold callers who travel door-to-door. General advice is:
- Do not ever agree to building works offered by a cold caller
- Never pay cash in advance to a builder
- Obtain a least two written quotes
- Where possible obtain references, or use recommendations of others.
- Look out for trades people who are registered in proper associations or who cone recommended on review websites
- Consult Brent Council before commencing works to ensure all planning and building controls are being complied with
To report a rogue builder or for further help and advice, contact the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06