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Inquiry Hearing Cases--A Selection II (Excerpts)

Deceiving the client to enter into tenancy agreement before it has been agreed

An estate agent deceived his client into entering into a tenancy agreement and provided different versions of the tenancy agreement. The Disciplinary Committee ruled that this went against Paragraph 3.3.1 of the Code of Ethics, which provides that estate agents and salespersons shall, in the course of business, provide services to clients with honesty, fidelity and integrity, and suspended the estate agent's licence for 6 months.

The estate agent acted for the landlord. Despite rounds of negotiation, the landlord refused to accede to the tenant's request that a dishwasher be provided. Being anxious to close the deal, the estate agent bought a dishwasher for the tenant out of his own pocket without seeking the landlord's approval. He then arranged for the landlord and the tenant to sign two different tenancy agreement forms which contained terms agreeable to the party who signed it but not to the other party. The estate agent replaced certain pages of the tenancy agreement before returning the tenancy agreement to the parties for their retention.

The fact that the parties had signed and retained two different versions of the tenancy agreement was uncovered when the tenant requested the landlord to repair the dishwasher.

At the inquiry hearing, the estate agent explained that he had been under great pressure as the parties could not compromise on the terms of the tenancy agreement. However, the Disciplinary Committee rejected this explanation as a justifiable reason for such misconduct. It took the view that the estate agent should have realized that his act of replacing pages of the signed tenancy agreement amounted to dishonesty. It was indeed a serious mistake which might cause heavy loss and damage to his client.

Having considered the estate agent's mitigation submissions, the Disciplinary Committee decided that the estate agent's licence be suspended for six months.

Paragraph 3.3.1 of the Code of Ethics
Estate agents and salespersons shall, in the course of business, provide services to clients with honesty, fidelity and integrity. They should protect their clients against fraud, misrepresentation or any unethical practices in connection with real estate transactions.

 

 

 

 
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