Singapore studying possible law change on renovation fraud

SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Property Affairs (MHA) is finding out if there is scope to amend existing laws to make it less complicated to establish fraud in cases where renovation will work are not carried out.

In reaction to a parliamentary concern by MP Murali Pillai (PAP-Bukit Batok) on renovation fraud, Minister for Property Affairs and Law K Shanmugam claimed in a created reply on Monday (Jul 4) that the law enforcement investigated 100 conditions involving errant renovation contractors concerning 2019 and 2021. 

So far, 72 of these cases have been prosecuted in courtroom, he mentioned, adding that the ministry is not able to supply aspects of instances that took place this calendar year as investigations are ongoing.

Mr Shanmugam claimed that renovation fraud frequently includes contractors having victims to make payment for promised renovation is effective, which are possibly partly accomplished or not carried out at all.

“In most of these situations, the contractors develop into uncontactable soon after collecting payment, or supply excuses to explain why they were being not able to comprehensive the promised is effective,” he stated.

Contractors who deceive victims into putting deposits without the need of any intent to carry out renovation functions can be billed with cheating offences less than area 420 of the Penal Code.

“In some situations there could be authentic company distress, and the contractor may possibly not have been equipped to do the function,” mentioned Mr Shanmugam.

“Further, where by the economic situation improvements instantly, for instance in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, some contractors may locate on their own not able to fulfil their contracts.

“In each situation, the concern is irrespective of whether there was fraudulent intent. Some other situations may perhaps entail fraudulent intent, but it may possibly be really tough to establish that in court.”

He has asked MHA to examine if there is scope to amend the regulation to make it easier to establish fraud in these kinds of cases, stated Mr Shanmugam.

The minister added that it can be challenging to get well the cash dropped in these kinds of ripoffs, even if the culprit goes to jail, as they could no longer have the income.

He recommended homeowners to interact contractors with a great keep track of history, these kinds of as those accredited less than the joint accreditation in between the Shopper Association of Singapore (Circumstance) and Singapore Renovation Contractors.