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Cost of misleading and false ads - $17,500

All online ads should be posted only with the property owners' consent and should not feature false or misleading information.

Placing fake advertisements. Placing advertisements without property owners’ consent. Omitting mandatory details in advertisements.

These offences cost Javiera Tan Xian Ming a hefty $17,500 in financial penalties. CEA’s Disciplinary Committee had found her guilty of several breaches to the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care (CEPCC) and Practice Guidelines on Ethical Advertising.

We take a closer look at Tan’s case and highlight what you should do when placing advertisements for your clients.

Advertising without consent

Tan posted numerous property listings online, advertising specific properties available for rent in various areas.

Investigations revealed, however, that the property owners did not engage Tan as their property agent nor give her their consent to advertise their property for rental.

Tan was sentenced to a financial penalty of $9,000 for three charges of breaching the CEPCC and Practice Guidelines on Ethical Advertising by advertising that properties were available for rent without the owners’ consent. The Disciplinary Committee took into consideration 12 other similar charges when sentencing Tan.

Learning points

You must obtain written consent from property owner(s) before advertising any property for rental or sale.

For the consent to be valid, you must inform the owner in writing of your name and registration number prior to the property owners giving their written consent.

If a property agency appoints a group of property agents to market a property, the agency must present the names and registration numbers of all the agents to the property owner for written consent.

To determine the owners of a property, conduct a title search via the Integrated Land Information Service.

Placing dummy ads

Tan also advertised online that she had various properties available for rent near various MRT stations, when there were in fact no such properties available.

Tan claimed that she wanted to publicise the areas she specialised in and had no intention of misleading the public.

Tan was sentenced to a financial penalty of $4,500 for three charges of breaching the CEPCC and Practice Guidelines on Ethical Advertising by advertising that there were properties available for rent when she did not have any. The Disciplinary Committee took into consideration 12 other similar charges when sentencing Tan.

Learning points

You must ensure that advertisements do not contain any offer, proposal, statement, representation, claim, or information that is inaccurate, false, or misleading.

Property agents who falsely advertise properties through dummy advertisements are misleading the public for their own benefit, be it to fish for potential clients or increase publicity for the areas or services that they specialise in.

Advertising without correct and clear identification

In her advertisements, Tan did not state her CEA registration number nor the licence number of her property agency. She also did not identify herself by the name "Tan Xian Ming" that she had registered with the CEA in the advertisements.

Tan was sentenced to a financial penalty of $4,000 for breaching the CEPCC by failing to ensure that she was correctly and clearly identified in the advertisements by omitting her CEA registration number and her agency's licence number. The Disciplinary Committee also took into consideration a charge against Tan for not using her registered name with the CEA in her advertisements.

Learning points

When placing advertisements online, you must state the following information:

  • Your registered name with CEA
  • Your CEA registration number
  • Your contact number as registered with CEA
  • Your property agency
  • Your property agency’s licence number

Find out more about the dos and don’ts of advertising:

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