PETALING JAYA: A concerning trend is on the rise as victims of renovation scams step forward to expose contractors who have been swindling unsuspecting individuals.
The modus operandi for one of the contractors was to flaunt pictures of alluring renovation projects on their social media profiles.
The victims quickly seek quotations from the contractors to realise their dream homes, even without formal agreements. However, issues arise soon after payments are made and work commences.
During a press conference held at Seputeh MP Teresa Kok’s service centre on Thursday, four victims came forward alleging that they were scammed by the same contractor.
The victims, looking to renovate their homes and business premises, had come across the contractor on Instagram.
One of the victims, Farah Nabila Zainudin, 26, said she hired the contractor for a full home renovation and had already paid almost RM108,400. But the work progressed slowly, and many things were done wrong, she claimed.
“In the end, I had to hire another contractor to finish up the house and it ended up costing me an additional RM150,000,” she said.
Another victim, Ahassolehin Ahadlin, 31, said he hired the same contractor to renovate his shop in Bandar Baru Bangi. The renovation began in October 2021 but abruptly halted two months later.
“Throughout that time, very little work was done. He will give all sorts of reasons – Covid-19 infection, flood, and such,” Ahassolehin said, adding that he had already paid almost RM30,000.
Kok said this was not the first time she had handled renovation scam cases, having previously received 40 complaints involving several different contractors who employed similar tactics.
Master Builders Association Malaysia president Oliver Wee Hiang Chyn said homeowners must check the legitimacy of contractors.
“Under the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) Act 520, all contractors or people involved in construction activity must register with CIDB,” he said.
“Either you can check through the website or you can actually just walk into any of the branches or call the hotline.”
Wee also cautioned against rushing into the renovation process, especially if the quotation seemed unreasonably low as it might not guarantee quality work.
“The (contractor) has to come up with some drawings or sketches at least and (then) tell you how much they (intend to) charge,” he said.
Wee said homeowners should always have a written agreement in case of potential disputes, whether in court or through arbitration.
“Put everything, terms and conditions that are clearly understood by both parties, on paper. That is something that is good to have,” he said.
In the press conference, Kok also concurred that action could not be taken despite the victims making a police report as there was no formal agreement to enable the matter to be investigated as a commercial crime.
“When you try to bring it to court for a civil suit, it’s difficult too because it’s not a proper agreement,” she said.
“So perhaps the government should introduce (a document) like a sales and purchase agreement (SPA).”
An SPA is a legally binding contract between a seller and a buyer that outlines the details of a property purchase, with its terms and conditions requiring mutual agreement from both parties.