MHA to Consider Legislative Amendment to Make Renovation Fraud Easier to Establish

SINGAPORE – The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) will consider changing the law to make it easier to establish fraud in cases involving wandering renovation contractors.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said on Monday July 4 that renovation fraud usually involves contractors tricking victims into paying for promised renovations that are either partially completed or not completed. done at all.

“In most of these cases, contractors become unreachable after collecting payment, or provide excuses as to why they cannot complete the promised work,” he added in a written response to parliamentary questions.

Mr Shanmugam noted that in some cases there could be real business distress and the contractor might not have been able to do the job, citing how some contractors found themselves unable to fulfill their contracts. during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In each case, the question is whether there was fraudulent intent. Some cases may involve fraudulent intent, but it can be very difficult to prove it in court,” he said.

Contractors who trick victims into posting bonds for renovations without intending to carry them out can be prosecuted for offenses of cheating under the Penal Code.

Mr Shanmugam, responding to Mr Murali Pillai (Bukit Batok), said that between 2019 and 2021 the police had investigated 100 cases involving wandering renovation contractors. So far, 72% of these cases have been prosecuted.

He added that recovering the funds can be difficult as the culprit may have run out of money.

Mr Shanmugam said home owners can consider hiring contractors with a good track record, such as those recognized under the joint accreditation between the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) and renovation contractors. from Singapore.

Case reported that the construction industry received 1,300 complaints last year, up from 869 in 2020. Almost one in two complaints were about projects not being completed on time and poor workmanship.

Singapore’s Competition and Consumer Commission released a guide to fair trading practices for the renovation industry in May.

It covers five main areas, including transparent pricing of services with no hidden costs and the fact that consumers and contractors should have a mutually agreed schedule for renovation work.

Denise W. Whigham