Property problems: Dealing with an agent who has undeclared links

Monday 26 April 2004

Q. I recently read about a successful case brought against a real estate agent who failed to disclose to the purchaser a personal relationship he had with the vendor.

In 2000 our company leased a warehouse/office. This was our first commercial property transaction and we foolishly did not obtain independent advice before entering into the lease.

The agent advised u

By The Landlord

s to sign up for four years, pay above market rate and sign personal guarantees.

What he failed to disclose was that the building owner was his colleague in the same office. Once the lease was signed the building was quickly on-sold.

In hindsight we would not have signed this lease had we known about the relationship involved. Do we have a case against the agent?

A. The Real Estate Agents Act 1976 does not deal with the situation you describe, as it provides only for circumstances where a business partner or employee of a real estate agent is involved in buying or leasing a property that the agent has been commissioned to sell or lease.

But there are other areas of the law which may be applicable. First, the Fair Trading Act 1986 provides that "no person shall, in trade, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive, or likely to mislead or deceive".

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