New scheme launched to protect consumers' home renovation deposits

New scheme launched to protect consumers' home renovation deposits

SINGAPORE - A new accreditation scheme has been launched to protect consumers who have paid deposits for home renovation, the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) revealed in a statement on Saturday (Feb 6).

The new CaseTrust-RCMA joint accreditation scheme will protect customers in the event that a renovation business closes or goes bankrupt by introducing a new deposit performance bond.

Accredited renovation businesses will also be required to adopt a CaseTrust Standard Renovation Contract to ensure cost transparency and accountability, an extra step of protection as compated to the previous CaseTrust accreditation.

The new scheme was jointly developed by Case and the Singapore Renovation Contractors and Material Suppliers Association (RCMA).

Five renovation contractors are the first to be accredited under the new scheme, which was developed after Case and RCMA signed a memorandum of understanding in August 2014.

In its statement, Case noted that the renovation industry has been among the industries with the highest number of complaints over the past decade.

Complaints usually centre on renovation businesses' unsatisfactory services and failure to honour contractual agreements. There have also been cases where contractors have disappeared after collecting deposit payments, leaving customers in the lurch.

"As home renovation is one of the larger expense items incurred by consumers, and usually involves payments of large sums of deposit to the contractor even before the renovation is completed, there is a need to ensure that consumers' prepayments are protected," the consumer watchdog noted.

All renovation businesses accredited under the new scheme or the previous one will also be subjected to a stringent set of criteria.

These include having a clearly defined resolution mechanism for the business and consumers, ethical sales staff, clearly documented policies on fees and refunds, and compulsory on-site workmanship assessment to be conducted by the Building and Construction Authority.

Case and RCMA also launched a new Singapore Renovation Guide Book to educate consumers on what they should look out for when engaging a contractor for their home renovation.

The book will be available at all Housing and Development Board branches and Town Council offices after Chinese New Year.

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