My recent experience with the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA), when I lodged a complaint against my property agent for dual representation, raises questions on whether or not the council also protects consumers from misconduct by estate agencies and their salesmen.
I had first written to the CEA to understand more about the dual representation issue, without revealing whether I was the tenant, landlord or real estate agent.
The CEA's reply consisted of advice on how an agent could protect himself against such complaints, with the appropriate documentation.
I later clarified that I was the tenant. The CEA then gave a reason why it was possible that there was no dual representation. It added that it would confirm this with the estate agent.
This reply surprised me. The CEA seems to be providing the agent with an excuse. Shouldn't it have investigated before suggesting there had been no dual representation?
The CEA collects licence fees from estate agencies and their salesmen. When a licence is revoked, the CEA will no longer be able to collect this fee. Given the conflict of interest, is the CEA the right body to protect consumer interests and manage complaints of misconduct?
My case was eventually dismissed as having "insufficient grounds", based on the verbal testimony of a third party. The third party did not provide any documents or evidence. In contrast, I submitted many pieces of evidence, such as the tenancy agreement, bank statement, online advertisements and text messages.
I do not understand why I wasn't contacted for more information or for a review of my documents.
Can the CEA explain why my documents were "insufficient"? Why was the verbal testimony of the third party given precedence over my documented evidence?
How does the CEA protect consumer interests like mine?
Catherine Cheong Wai Shan (Ms)
This article was first published on March 31, 2015.
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