Unlicensed builder jailed and fined $15,000 after deceiving consumers

Michael Issa, fined and jailed after trading as an unlicensed builder. Photo: Supplied The initial stage of Anila’s laundry conversion. Photo: Supplied

“The plumber laid down the plumbing work and the concrete base and then there was there was no progress at all:” Anila, who engaged Mr Issa’s service in her Baulkham Hills home. Photo: Supplied

An unlicensed builder, described by the Fair Trading Commissioner as “a menace best avoided”, has been sentenced to 12 months in jail and ordered to pay more than $40,000 in fines and compensation.

Michael Issa, of Greystanes, was pursued by authorities after two incidents in which he traded falsely through company names Instyle Developments and First Class Group NSW.

In acts described by the magistrate as “egregious”, Mr Issa lured a consumer into a building contract with no intention of undertaking work, accepted $15,000 as a deposit, before vanishing and disconnecting his phone.

His second victim paid him $11,000 for various works in her Baulkham Hills home, before conducting a licence check and discovering he was a fraud.

“It was just a mess,” said Anila, who was pregnant with her third daughter at the time she engaged Mr Issa’s services.

“The main thing we wanted was for our laundry to become a functioning bathroom. The whole point was to have the laundry done before I had the baby.”

As well as the laundry conversion, she had requested a variety of plumbing and lighting works around the home.

“When he started the laundry he took a deposit of $6000, then we discussed a second payment of $5000 upon half the work completed and then another $4350 when all work was completed.”

At the time Anila was unaware that the deposit Mr Issa was requesting was well in excess of the permissible 10 per cent of the total contract price for building contracts worth more than $20,000.

“He just kept delaying everything. We had a demolished laundry, then the plumber laid down the plumbing work and the concrete base and then there was there was no progress at all…just excuse after excuse.”

After calling Fair Trading, Anila was advised to check Mr Issa’s license number, at which point she realised he had an expired license for waterproofing only.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe described Mr Issa’s behaviour as dishonest and evasive.

“He deceived people, he has so far refused to give victims their money back and he is a menace best avoided,” he said.

Anila said she and her husband and still waiting for the money they are owed, but she said the point of filing the complaint was never to get the money back.

“Our main concern was that he didn’t do this to anyone else. If we get the money back, that’s good but the lesson is learnt.”Homeowners in NSW have been paid out $63 million in the last three financial years, to remedy sub-standard work after their builder died, disappeared or went insolvent.

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