THE Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) has for the first time taken action against two property agents for acting against the interests of consumers.
One was handed a $3,000 fine and suspended for three months while the other had to pay a $2,500 fine and write a letter of apology to a complainant.
According to the CEA yesterday, Kee Lee Ping, 32, failed to declare to her clients earlier last year that the sellers of an HDB flat were her husband and parents-in-law. It was also found that during the same transaction, the agent of six years did not comply with HDB resale procedures by extending the sellers' stay in the flat beyond what was allowed.
The other agent taken to task was Roland Pun Siew Hong, 45. A woman had contacted him earlier last year after coming across an advertisement he had put up about a property for rent.
Following several exchanges, she decided not to engage him as she was unhappy with his service. In a span of one week, the agent of four years sent her 51 abusive SMS messages at different times of the day, which led to her lodging a complaint.
'Pun's attack upon the complainant was unprovoked. She felt harassed, aggrieved and insulted by his numerous SMS messages,' said the CEA.
Both agents also had to pay the CEA $1,000 for costs incurred during the investigation.
Property agents who breach the agency's Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care could have their registrations suspended or revoked, and pay a maximum fine of $75,000.
Ms Purnima Shantilal, CEA's director of licensing and investigations, said it takes 'a stern view' of breaches of the Code. 'We will not hesitate to take disciplinary action against offenders,' she added, noting that there would be more disciplinary hearings in the coming months.
Consumers are advised to check CEA's public register of agents at www.cea.gov.sg before engaging their services.