Coming clean on dirty tricks

2017-10

Estate agents should not behave in a way which may bring discredit and/or disrepute to the estate agency trade when chasing commissions.

Otherwise, they may be subject to disciplinary action by the Estate Agents Authority.

An estate agent arranged for a prospective tenant to inspect a property and then enter into a tenancy agreement with the landlord. However, he did not enter into an estate agency agreement with the tenant.

After the tenancy agreement was signed, the estate agent asked the tenant to pay a commission of HK$9,500 – equivalent to half of the monthly rent.

The tenant refused to pay as he had not entered into any estate agency agreement with the agent. He proposed to offer the agent a check of HK$5,000 and pocket money of HK$1,000 as courtesy, but the agent refused to accept the offer.

Later, the estate agent sent a letter to the company that the tenant worked for, saying that the tenant refused to pay commission to him and disclosed the tenant’s personal information in the letter. Feeling aggrieved, the tenant lodged a complaint with the EAA.

The EAA disciplinary committee was of the view that the agent should not disclose personal information about the tenant to a third party.

He was in breach of paragraph 3.7.2 of the Code of Ethics, which stipulates: “Estate agents and salespersons should avoid any practice which may bring discredit and/or disrepute to the estate agency trade.”

The committee decided to reprimand the estate agent and impose a fine of HK$10,000.

(Published in The Standard)