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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

Named and shamed: property portal database of rogue traders includes murderers

The controversial property portal Propertyheads has compiled a blacklist of tradesmen who have a criminal record.

The website says this is the first of its kind in the country - and it already has over 1,000 names on it.

The site now want homeowners to report rogue traders on the portal, so they can be added to the database. 

The portal says the issue is wider than just ‘cowboy’ builders and fraudsters, but also covers convicted murderers and rapists which it says constitute “people you would not knowingly invite into your home.”

It says research suggests builders form the largest single category of rogue trade, followed by roofers, driveway traders and gardeners, painters and decorators, plasterers, bricklayers and carpenters.

Propertyheads claims many rogue traders are repeat offenders and some have more than 50 convictions.

The website's so-called ‘high risk’ areas include County Durham, Kent and Essex with low risk areas including Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Greater London.

Propertyheads is less than a year old and caused uproar when it launched as it referred to some agencies as 'partners' and including many property listings which had been carried without agencies' agreement.

Ben Davis, the portal’s chief executive, says of his new initiative: “We are appalled that so many homeowners are being ripped off by rogue traders and want to help. Quite simply reputable companies do not doorstep for new customers and homeowners would be well advised to avoid those that do.

“It is widely accepted that the best way to engage a reliable tradesman is by word of mouth. But how can you possibly know which of your friends and colleagues has used a reliable tradesman without asking all of them? And why is it that traditional tradesman review websites are built around anonymous reviews?”

He says three factors struck him when compiling the blacklist.

“Firstly, rogue tradesman will go to extraordinary lengths to mislead their victims including faking their own cancer and using vehicles with government agency sign-writing. Secondly, even those with seemingly reputable backgrounds – we have several ex Police and military in our Blacklist – are capable of awful crimes. And third, the sheer number of victims involved.”

He concludes: “If our blacklist helps just one homeowner avoid being ripped-off, then we will have done a good service.”

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    I would be interested to know how the ICO with the new data privacy laws view this, as I don’t suppose the database has the natural persons consent to be on such a database, so how can it be past to third parties? That said anything that can reduce rogue traders and con men is a good thing.

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    Every customer would have to have a contract with the Trader (separate from the Trader with the Customer) giving permission to share information as we have with our tenancies.

  • James Robinson

    A dear friend, the late Martin Miller of Millers Antiques Guide and Millers Gin fame, once told me was launching a site called cheatingbastards.com to deal with bad customers, crooked tradesmen, bent business partners and badly behaved ex-girlfriends.
    Tragically it was drowned at birth by his lawyers who said if he launched it he would be sued from here to eternity for publishing libel. I am sure he would not only be delighted to hear that business owners may be getting a similar right to review their customers and would no doubt be willing to hand over the cheatingbastard.com domain name which I believe he actually owned.
    Here's to you Martin you were ahead of your time.

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