Flood victims urged to be vigilant as door-to-door contractors offer services
City of Montreal says no cases of fraud have been reported yet
Homeowners hoping to repair the water damage left behind by weeks of flooding are being warned to do their due diligence as potentially unscrupulous contractors begin to go door-to-door in the hardest-hit areas.
Over 4,000 residences across Quebec have been damaged by flood waters, according to the latest provincial estimates.
Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre called for flood victims in affected boroughs to proceed with caution at a news conference on Saturday.
"There have not been any cases of fraud reported up until now, but for security reasons, be vigilant," said Coderre.
Work underway in some homes
Some residents in Ahuntsic-Cartierville have already begun the process of gutting their flood-damaged homes.
Josée Daoust said there was about four feet of water in the basement of her father's home on Cousineau Street.
With little time or energy to find a specialized contractor who could carry out the work, Daoust said she accepted the offer of an entrepreneur who knocked on her door.
"I checked the [contractor's licence] with the Régie du batiment on the Internet, and I checked whether there had ever been any complaints," said Daoust.
So far she's been satisfied by the work done, she said.
'Some people with bad intentions try to profit'
Yannick Léveillé, a contractor who specializes in post-flood renovations and restorations, said many homeowners feel pressure to get work underway as soon as the water recedes.
"People are afraid of mold, so when entrepreneurs show up at their place, they open their doors, even if they don't know them," said Léveillé.
"Like in other industries, some people with bad intentions try to profit."
Léveillé suggests homeowners speak to their insurance company, even if flooding isn't covered by their policy, because they may be able to recommend a contractor capable of doing the work.
Only pay when work is completed
Quebec's consumer protection office says homeowners hiring any contractor should draw up a contract.
"Despite the vulnerability and state of mind of the flood victims, it's necessary to take the time to make the right choice," said office spokesperson Charles Tanguay.
"Request more than one tender and detail the work to be done in a written contract."
Tanguay said homeowners should not pay contractors in advance, but rather pay when the work is complete and to their satisfaction.
With files from Radio-Canada