'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

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JR8
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'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by JR8 » Wed, 05 Aug 2015 7:21 pm

A month after packing up and leaving we're still trying to get back all of the net deposit that is due to us.
The situation so far:
- It took us about 3 weeks to get the bulk of it, net of agreed minor deductions returned.
- There is still one item still in dispute.
- Our own agent has absolved herself of any involvement, by claiming all her records are lost. I see that this lack of effective record keeping is in breach of the SGn Estate Agents Regulations. But am not going to kick off WW3 just yet, whilst the last few $00 might be returned without such intervention.

Whilst digging around in the above regs - ESTATE AGENTS ACT 2010 (ACT 25 OF 2010)
ESTATE AGENTS (ESTATE AGENCY WORK) REGULATIONS 2010
https://www.cea.gov.sg/cea/content/bina ... 202010.pdf

I thought it might be of use to others in future. I haven't read through the whole document yet, but was interested to see the below.

-------------------------------------------------
REGULATION OF ESTATE AGENCY WORK
No dual representation
5.—(1) No salesperson or estate agent who is a natural person shall, in respect of the same property, have as clients both vendor and purchaser or both landlord and tenant.
(2) Paragraph (1) applies regardless of the consent or agreement of the client or of any or all the parties to the relevant transaction.
(3) Any person who contravenes paragraph (1) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $25,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months or
to both.

-------------------------------------------------

In our case by checking the current individual creds of our agent, and the landlords agent via the CEA website I see that both agents do indeed work for the same company, a headline major agency. I don't know if that was the case 2-3 years ago when we signed-up for the flat, but it is now. I see a potential conflict of interest, and am curious if this ties with our agent now washing her hands of involvement. Loyalty to colleague coming higher than loyalty to customer? Hmmm...

From the same Act...
'Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care
3. Every licensed estate agent and every registered salesperson shall observe and comply with the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care set out in the First Schedule.'


So the 'licensed estate agent' is the company, rather than the individual. That suggests one agent/i.e. company, can't represent both LL and tenant.



As it is the one outstanding deduction is an alleged worn/grooved patch of parquet timber floor in what was my study. It was like that when we moved in, I took many photos of the condition when we moved in incl that damage to that floor. The LLs agent won't accept those pictures as they're not 'date-stamped'. The LLs agent also won't accept an e-mail to our agent with that (and other) photos attached from right before we signed the TA, as she wasn't copied on that e-mail at the time.

The deposit less agreed deductions has just been returned (after c3 weeks). We appear to have been charged several hundred for damage to the floor. We had agreed to settle for 50% of the cost just to get the matter of the deposit over and done with. We've queried the deduction that then got made, the LLs agent has said (a month after leaving) that she has to get a copy of the receipt to ascertain if it's half or the whole cost.
I.e. a) She doesn't know b) she made the deduction without having or providing a copy of the receipt.

Through all of this, if we raise a query, we have to wait days to get a reply, plus as mentioned our agent is absent from this discussion and of no use at all. I'm in half a mind to ask our agent for a rebate on the commission we paid her, since having 'lost her records' she's not in a position to represent us; part of her job. But hey, that'll never fly will it... <sigh>

So, despite best efforts and prior experience here is where I find myself, again. I can still file a complaint via the SGn estate agents association and will keep that as an option. But the 'couldn't give a fig' attitude of the LLs agent suggests the risk of that does not intimidate her.

Conclusions?
Apart from the usual, 'document, document, document'. When you take a flat note any damages. Photograph it. Ensure it's on the inventory (hard when you have a week+ after move in to note additional damages and repairs need). E-mail the LLs agent with all of this. Copy your own agent if applicable. Keep copies of everything. Dox, pix, e-mails etc., for the entire duration of your tenancy. Much easier if it's all in one place, than years down the line trying to find these things. Esp if you've packed up and left, and your records are in transit. Once you've moved in, and all and any matters are settled and resolved, maybe copy *all* of these dox onto a $10 memory stick and keep it at work... or similar?

It's a shame. I enjoyed my time in SG; my 3rd stint, but it's surprising how a relatively small matter like this turns me off so heavily against the agents, and in parallel the place. It's feels like such a lazy and cynical attempt to con a few $00. One of the harder aspects is having to continue to proceed with the pretense that there is goodwill. The alt of 'causing offence' by calling the situation for what it is, means I'll never see the rest of the money.

Ask me now whether I'd move back again. ... [snort]. All because of $500.

[Sorry/venting. But I take integrity/debts etc in a black and white way, and pretty personally :)].
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by BoroBoy » Wed, 05 Aug 2015 8:06 pm

Does the law apply to individuals or companies? I'd have thought your agreement would be with the company and not the agent. Or was she a sole agent and now works for a company?


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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by x9200 » Wed, 05 Aug 2015 9:17 pm

JR8, the p.5 you quoted concerns only the situation the same agent represents both the tenant and the LL. I don't think is any applicable to some other possible conflict of interests situations and explicitly not to the agents coming from the same company - this would impose rather significant limitations to the market.

For the rest, I think they should have accepted the photographs. If they suggested they were taken at some later time, the burden of proving it should be theirs. The sad truth is, whatever you do if they sniff good opportunity (such as you living already outside of the country) they may try to *beep* you regardless the No of e-mails you would send and people on the cc list. They could just say, they don't accept it as the evidence and the situation will be exactly the same.

BTW, for any time critical data what I normally do I burn it to a DVD, 2 copies at least, put in an envelope and send to myself by a regular postal services in a tamper-proof envelope. With this approach no third party who could lose all the files is needed.

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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by JR8 » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 7:52 pm

@BoroB,
We instructed an agent in SG, from a major agency, (who happens to be a distant relative of my wife) to
take us around and help to find us a suitable apartment. We paid her full market commission,
so I do not feel any familial obligations etc., this is business. This is the individual who has
now 'lost all her e-mails from 2+ years ago', and washed her hands of the matter.
Through her we viewed several flats. On the flat we chose we had to also interface via the landlords agent.
Given our agent has now exited the scene, we are now dealing/negotiating directly with the LLs agent. They both
work for the same company, maybe on the same sales team who knows. The LLs agent now seeing our own agent
is out of the picture, and that we're out of the country, perhaps feels she has free rein to try and screw us.

@X9:
Yes, it would be useful if they had (as with some other Acts) a list of definitions at the top of it.
Such that it was precisely clear what was meant by say 'salesperson', 'estate agent', and so on.

I think what I find hard to reconcile is how in our situation the agency, via it's two agents, is getting
two bites of the cherry.
For example, the owner is paying her agent to list the flat and get it let, and we are paying our agent
(same company) to show us the flat and sign up to a lease.
Take the situation of me letting a flat in London: I pay the agents lettings commission, the tenant pays
nothing. 'My agent' is the company and not the individual. Say I'm used to dealing with the individual
negotiator John. If John is on holiday and a prospective tenant walks into the agency, it doesn't mean
the prospect would pay double commission due to having to speak to Jane in John's absence.

Anyway, this all feels like rather polite tinkering around the edges. I'm going to give it some thought
as to if I can take some simple action that will 'get their attention'.
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 8:25 pm

Hi JR I found this part in the link you posted to be of use in your case

1) For the purposes of the Act, an estate agent shall retain the originals
or keep copies of the following documents for at least 3 years:

...
reference pg 18/74
To get there early is on time and showing up on time is late

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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 8:27 pm

Also another clarification here.. what about the situation where the agent represents the landlord solely?
In this case there there is no agent fee payed by the tenant ( the landlord pays the agent fee)
is this also considered dual representation?
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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by JR8 » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 9:53 pm

Hi RAJM:
>>Hi JR I found this part in the link you posted to be of use in your case
1) For the purposes of the Act, an estate agent shall retain the originals
or keep copies of the following documents for at least 3 years:
... reference pg 18/74


Thanks for that. Yes, that was something I noticed too. So if I ever have to rely on
ammunition that might be one of the first pieces that gets launched. That said,
might one start with a complaint to the agency, or to the CEA? I understand that it is
usually considered (by higher courts) constructive and in a positive light, if at
each lower step you have proceeded with good-will, and given 'the other side' a chance
to do what's required. On the flip-side, you are faced with zero goodwill, 'two fingers'
being waved at you, and time is as always of the essence.


>>Also another clarification here.. what about the situation where the agent
represents the landlord solely? In this case there there is no agent fee payed by the
tenant ( the landlord pays the agent fee) is this also considered dual representation?


I doubt it, as the landlord's agent only represents the landlord. As a potential
tenant surely you are on your own? It seems perverse, but in some ways it'd be simpler
if there were only one agent involved between me and the LL.


[apols for the gay colours, nothing personal ;;;]
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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by rajagainstthemachine » Fri, 07 Aug 2015 11:29 pm

I think you need to build a proper case with solid facts and evidence loaded in your favor and then shaft the agent for obvious malpractices.
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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by Karrielove » Mon, 10 Aug 2015 2:08 am

hi JR8..... I have checked with a property friend of mine..... and yes its true that one agent cannot rep both sides..... his suggestion is for u to approach either CEA or the company tat the agent is from and report him..... if u are very sure that he has taken Commission from the LL and yourself... this is considered a very serious case in Singapore property.So don't be worried.

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Re: 'Dual representation' - i.e. agent represents both landlord and tenant

Post by JR8 » Mon, 10 Aug 2015 6:28 pm

Hi Karrielove, Thanks for your message (and welcome to the forum too :))

Just to clarify though, our situation is two individuals/agents, one representing the landlord, and the other us (the tenant), who both work for the same agency/company.

I agree with you that if it were one agent/individual representing both parties the situation would be clear, and beyond debate. But even with different individual agents, from the same company, the potential for conflict of interest is opaque.

For example what if say we engage an agent to show us apartments. We sign up for an apartment where the landlord's agent works for the same agency, and is say maybe in fact our agents 'boss'/manager. What chance would we have as tenant, with a genuine grievance, against the landlord (via their agent)? It would seem to be, in local terms, like expecting our agent to go and win against her own boss.

The latter might be why our agent has walked away from helping us, or any further involvement. [Given she is on our wider family/social network her walking away is *very* surprising to us. I.e. the position she finds herself in at work must threaten more than us, say, telling our friends/relatives that she/our agent has taken our fees and abandoned our case].

Anyway, there appears to still be some hope. The LLs agent has agreed that the item in dispute can remain an open issue. And if we can evidence that it was reported when we took the flat, with date-stamped evidence, then ... there is a chance that deduction will be rebated.

So we'll see. The outcome hinges on my own e-mails going back to when we took the apartment 2-3 years ago. So when my PC arrives here with our household goods and we've settled in, this is going to be one item for the job-list. [i.e. The LLs agent has agreed that this timing/reverting is 'ok'].
'Do it or do not do it: You will regret both' - Kierkegaard

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