With technological advancements such as mobile phone applications, website portals and social media, unregistered real estate negotiators (RENs) have been running rampant against the law to make a fast buck. The Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Malaysia (BOVAEA), the governing body for all registered estate agents and real estate transactions in the country said that they are concerned at the apathy of these groups that disregard the law.
From BOVAEA’s six-month campaign called CAMP, which encapsulates the four main methods illegal brokers use to con suspecting property sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants – Cheating, Absconding, Misinterpretation and Profiteering. The campaign is aimed at educating the public on the unscrupulous illegal agents.
The campaign discovered individuals as well as companies using the new age media to market properties illegally and a few even urged the public not to use the services of registered RENs for a cheaper price as well as faster and immediate service.
“Such misinformation by these illegal property agents has undermined the legal authority that encompasses the practise through the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981. Their actions had cause both trust and legal problems to the landlords who used their services as neither the law nor the web-based company can protect them,” said Eric Lim Chin Heng, Chairman of BOVAEA Estate Agency Practice Committee (EPAC).
CAMP was designed to educate and protect the public, prior to the numerous complaints BOVAEA had received over the years as property buyers and sellers had been losing a lot of their hard earned money.
“Numerous unregistered agents are not aware of the law that prohibits them from approaching property developers and owners to help them sell their properties,” said Soma Sundram, member of BOVAEA EPAC.
Tuan Haji Faizan Abdul Rahman, President of BOVAEA, commented that such incidences have increased in view of the rising demand for properties in the current challenging market as many illegal agents do not know that property trade is governed by the Act.
“It is time for these illegal agents to stop as the law only permits trained and competent real estate agents to market and sell properties,” he said.
The CAMP campaign had since investigated and found an IT-based public listed company responsible for creating an illegal real estate trading website portal.
“We also want to reiterate from the Act that those who appoint these illegal brokers may be contravening with the law as abetment also falls under the Act’s infringement,” he added.
To serve and protect
“BOAVEA’s prime objective is to protect the public against illegal brokers and as such the public must be aware that when selling, purchasing, letting or renting they should seek the representation and advice of registered agents or negotiators.”
Faizan urged the public against using illegal brokers or firms not registered with BOVAEA, as when there is a dispute, there is nothing much the Board can do to help the parties concerned.
“We urged the public to be prudent when they appoint an agent and check their legality as the Board can only take action against the REN should there be a dispute. Dealing with registered agents provides a certain standard of service and there are options for recourse should negotiations or deals turn sour,” he stressed.
Soma said that all registered real estate agents or negotiators will have a red tag issued by the Board and advised the public to ask for the tag from agents or negotiators to check for their legality.
“REN tags are red and will have a BOVAEA lanyard attached to it. To check for the REN’s legality, the public can use their smart phones and identify the REN’s legal status via the QR code on the tag,” Soma advised.
He also added that all RENs must wear the tag when engaging property negotiations with their customers and they will be liable to the law should they be caught to have infringed the Act.
“Those found guilty under Section 30 of the Act is liable to a fine not exceeding RM300,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both,” Eric warned, adding that the Board committee is currently actively monitoring and identifying such illegal activities.
Faizan added that there will be cooperation with the Real Estate Housing and Developers’ Association (REHDA) to ensure that RENs appointed by the developers are registered agents with BOVAEA as well as Police Diraja Malaysia (PRRM) to assist in upholding the Act.
Registered real estate agents and negotiators are reminded to act within the code of conduct set by the Board that helps protect public interests and against fraud, misinterpretation and unethical practices in respect to all real estate transactions.