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1 in 5 homeowners have fallen victim to rogue trades

New research from Checkatrade reveals the rogue trade hotspots around the UK.

Fast Facts

  • Risky business: 27% have booked a trade without sourcing references and 24% have completely skipped background checks altogether
  • Skint Brits: 23% of homeowners also admit they would choose the cheapest tradesperson due to cost of living, with £703.84 the worrying high price point at which homeowners will start to look into whether a trade is vetted or not
  • Riskfactor: According to experts, we’re more likely to take a risk when faced with stress, presented with a low price and receive a word-of-mouth recommendation
  • Rogue trade hotspots: Homeowners from Newcastle (30%), London (29%), Sheffield (25%), and Liverpool (25%), say they have fallen victim to a rogue trade

New research1 from Checkatrade has revealed that 1 in 5 (21%) British homeowners have been victims of rogue trades, with those from Newcastle (30%), London (29%), Liverpool (25%), and Sheffield (25%) most likely to have fallen victim to a tradesperson scam.

The study also found that more than a quarter (27%) have booked a trade without sourcing references and 24% have completely skipped background checks altogether. While 23% said they would choose the cheapest tradesperson they could find due to the cost of living.

This has left one third (33%) regretting their decision to cut corners during their tradesperson research in the past year.

Trigger point

Checkatrade, the tradesperson directory which completes up to 12 rigorous checks on its members before they become part of the platform, has teamed up with Konstantinos Katsikopoulos, Professor of Behavioural Science at the University of Southampton, to reveal the moment at which people drop their guard and are more likely to unknowingly invite a rogue tradesperson into their home.

Combined with his research into risk management and perception, Professor Katsikopoulos has determined the elements where people are more likely to take a risk and hire a rogue tradesperson including: Stress + low price + word-of-mouth recommendation = more likely to take a risk and hire an unverified tradesperson.

Professor Katsikopoulos comments, “When it comes to risk perception and decision making, people are more likely to cut corners when under bouts of stress, financial pressures and even trusting word-of-mouth recommendations. If you find yourself in these scenarios, it’s best to not rush a decision, no matter how small the cost, and always do your research.”

Risky business

Adding to the risky behaviours, 47% admit to not even thinking about checking if a tradesperson was verified (that is, vetted by a third party) if they offered to do a job for less than £1,000. In fact, £703.84 is the worrying price point at which homeowners will start to think about checking if a tradesperson is verified or vetted by a third party. With the current cost of living crisis, that’s a risk few homeowners can afford, potentially putting themselves at further risk of having to pay an even more costly sum to rectify.

Meanwhile, over half (51%) said they would purely rely on a word-of-mouth recommendation for any home improvement job, either planned or emergency, without doing any further checks– potentially putting themselves at risk of employing a rogue tradesperson without even knowing.

Rogue trade hotspots

While homeowners everywhere should keep an eye out for potential rogue trades, Newcastle (30%), London (29%), Liverpool (25%), and Sheffield (25%) were the areas where more residents agreed to having been affected by rogue trades.

A further 65% have also been left disappointed by work carried out in their homes or garden, even if they wouldn’t necessarily describe the worker as a rogue tradesperson, with poor quality results (62%) and leaving a mess behind (24%) the biggest gripes. But for 20%, the biggest bugbear was the job taking much longer than initially estimated to complete while 17% felt they were overcharged for their job.

Plumbing was revealed as the trade most likely to leave homeowners dissatisfied (24%), followed by painting and decorating (19%) and bathroom installations (17%). Nearly a fifth (17%) have also been left disappointed by work done outside, either in gardening or fencing.

Finally, when it comes to unsatisfactory work carried out by a rogue trade, people have found themselves on average losing £1,150. With 6 in 10 (60%) saying they had to invest additional money to fix or finish the disappointing work left by a rogue trade.

Cities where people claim they’ve fallen foul of a rogue trade:

  1. Newcastle 30%
  2. London 29%
  3. Sheffield 25%
  4. Liverpool 25%
  5. Bristol 19%
  6. Manchester 18%
  7. Leicester 18%
  8. Leeds 14%

Kim Faura, Chief Product Officer at Checkatrade, highlights the importance of working with verified trades, adding, “Recently, we’ve been hearing from our Checkatrade trades that they’re being asked to rectify problems created by rogue and unqualified trades. With one in five homeowners intending to do home improvement work this summer, it’s vital they do their research before hiring a trade. This includes not only referring to directories like Checkatrade and our online reviews but also leaving a review once a job is complete. This helps us to continuously monitor if members are upholding the Checkatrade Standard, including committing to carrying out quality and fair work.

“Every Checkatrade member must pass up to 12 rigorous checks to be on the platform, and we’re committed to ensuring the industry maintains its high standards. Plus, our guarantee means that jobs booked through Checkatrade are covered for up to £1,000 for 12 months*, for additional peace of mind.”

Five top tips to find a reputable tradesperson:

  1. Use a trade directory Checkatrade has done the hard work for you by vetting every member who joins the platform. You can check out member profiles to find out more about them, alongside reading honest reviews from real people too
  2. Request quotes from at least 3 trades – Shop around to make sure you’re paying a fair price for the work
  3. Make sure the trade you are looking to have has the relevant qualifications – Look for a tradesperson with relevant qualifications and accreditations, and check if they’re part of national trade schemes. Schemes include TrustMark, Competent Person Scheme, Consumer Codes Approval Scheme, or schemes run by other national trade associations
  4. Choose a trade with local experience – Hiring a tradesperson with a lot of local experience can be really valuable. They’ll have a working knowledge of local planning permission, have access to a local network of suppliers and labour, and will be close at hand should you need them during your project
  5. Ask for customer references (and contact them) – When you’ve found a tradesperson (or tradespeople) you think could be right for the job, ask them to provide you with references from previous customers about the quality of the tradesperson’s work, what it was like to work with them, and would they hire them again


Rogue trade hotspots June 2023

1Research carried out by OnePoll of 2,000 UK homeowners between 16th to 21st June 2023
* Eligibility criteria and T&Cs apply 

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