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Reminder: Don't dual rep!

Imagine this: You are serving both the buyer and the seller in the same transaction. Your buyer client wants to negotiate for a lower price, but your seller client wants a higher price. Whose interests do you serve?

Under the Estate Agents Act1 (Cap. 95A) (EAA), it is an offence for estate agents and salespersons to be appointed by both tenants/buyers and landlords/sellers for the same property transaction.

This means you can only act for ONE client in a property transaction. By representing only your client in a property transaction, you are striving towards client-centricity by taking care of their interests.

Case study

A 43-year-old property agent, Choo Chew Tai aka Kathy Choo was recently convicted in Court for representing both the tenant and the landlord in a rental transaction involving a room in a HDB flat. She was sentenced to a fine of $7,000, in default seven weeks' imprisonment.

Choo helped a flat owner advertise the lease of the master bedroom in his HDB flat in Jurong West.

Later, she helped a tenant rent the room from the flat owner for a year at a monthly rental of $800. She then received a commission of $400 each from the owner and the tenant.

A few days later, the owner found out that it was an offence for Choo to collect commission from him and the tenant. He wanted to terminate the tenancy agreement. The tenant then called Choo’s agency for assistance, only to find out that there was no record of Choo handling his rental transaction. The tenant subsequently lodged a complaint against Choo with the CEA.

What Choo should have done to avoid dual representation:

  • Decline to represent the prospective tenant in the transaction
  • Inform the tenant to engage a property agent on his own
  • If the tenant wanted to handle the transaction on his own but wanted Choo to help with the paperwork:
    • Choo should first obtain her client's, in this case, the landlord’s consent to do so
    • She should be very clear to all parties that she is acting for the landlord
    • She cannot collect a fee for the paperwork rendered to the tenant

Read more frequently-asked questions on dual representation.

1Under the Estate Agents Act (Cap. 95A), "estate agents" refer to estate agency businesses (sole-proprietors, partnerships, and companies) or individuals who do estate agency work. Estate agency businesses are commonly known as property agencies. "Salespersons" refer to individuals who perform estate agency work. They are commonly known as property agents.