Storm damage warning for NSW

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe is warning consumers in the state affected by last week’s severe storms to use only licensed and reputable tradespeople to do repair work on homes.

Assessment teams from Fire and Rescue NSW are working closely with communities in Kurnell to assess all properties for asbestos contamination and structural damage to homes.

There have been widespread power outages and numerous trees and powerlines down, with reports of property damage, particularly roof and solar panel dislodgement.

Mr Stowe said storms that cause significant property damage are often soon followed by scammers, taking advantage of consumer vulnerability.

“Avoid cold calling and unlicensed repairers,” he said.

“Only use a licensed building contractor for work valued at more than $5000.

“Electrical or plumbing work can only all be undertaken by a licensed contract irrespective of the value of the work to be performed.

“Trade licences may be checked online at the Fair Trading website or call 13 32 20. If you are approached by unlicensed tradespeople, report it immediately to Fair Trading.

“Home owners with building insurance should check with their insurer before authorising any building repairs as insurers often require work to be performed by their own preferred builders.”

Fair Trading can help storm victims by:

  • providing information on how to choose suitable tradespeople to carry out repairs
  • providing information about deposits and contracts
  • advising people in rented accommodation and their landlords about their rights and obligations
  • providing referrals to other service providers, including legal and financial specialists.

Storm damage can be a major issue for landlords, tenants and real estate agents when a rental property is damaged. Fair Trading can provide advice on rights and obligations with regard to urgent repairs and compensation.

Mr Stowe said residents should not get up on any roof fitted with solar panels, particularly if tree branches have come down.

“Damage to a roof by debris can interfere with normal solar panel operation,” he said. “There can be electrical hazards with solar panels or Photovoltaic Arrays (PV Arrays), which can generate an electrical current as long as there is sunlight, regardless of whether or not the electrical supply from the state grid has been turned off.

“If you are unsure about the state of your solar panel installation, contact the installer or get the advice of a licensed electrician. Do not turn on the equipment without checking first."