The new Letter of Censure (LOC) disciplinary regime is one of the key amendments under the Estate Agents (Amendment) Act 2020, which was operationalised on 30 July 2021. Under this new regime, CEA can issue LOCs and impose financial penalties of up to $5,000 per case against errant real estate salespersons (RESs) and estate agents (EAs) for minor disciplinary breaches1. The new penalties under the LOC disciplinary regime will only apply to information or complaints received by CEA on or after 30 July 2021.
1Disciplinary breaches involve breaches of the Estate Agents Act or its subsidiary legislation that are not criminal offences, e.g. breaches of the Estate Agents (Prevention of Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism) Regulations 2021, the Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care and the Code of Practice for Estate Agents.
The LOC disciplinary regime will be applicable for disciplinary breaches which are assessed to be minor. Where a breach is assessed to be serious, the matter will generally be referred to the CEA Disciplinary Committee (DC) for consideration. Some key considerations in assessing that a breach is minor are:
- The breach results in no or low financial loss or consequence to the parties involved in the transaction.
- The errant RES or EA had no or low wrongful gain.
- The errant RES or EA was not dishonest, fraudulent or had an intention to mislead.
The penalties under the LOC disciplinary regime will be imposed in a calibrated manner. CEA will take into consideration the severity of the disciplinary breach and/or whether the RES or EA has records2 of previous disciplinary breaches or criminal offences. For example:
- Where the RES or EA commits a minor breach and has no previous records, CEA will generally issue a Letter of Warning (LOW), unless the circumstances of the case warrant a more severe penalty under the LOC disciplinary regime.
- If the RES or EA who had received a previous LOW commits another minor breach, CEA may consider issuing a LOC with or without imposing a financial penalty.
- If the RES or EA continues to commit minor breaches repeatedly, we may impose a higher financial penalty together with a LOC, or refer the case to the DC, depending on the number of repeated breaches committed and the facts and circumstances of the case.
Please refer to the links below for details on how penalties will be imposed under the LOC disciplinary regime and the procedure involved.
You may also refer to CEA’s Regulatory and Enforcement Guide which provides an overview on CEA’s regulatory framework, including the LOC disciplinary regime.
2 Records include LOW, LOC with or without a financial penalty imposed by CEA; past disciplinary actions taken by the DC; and/or records of criminal offences committed under the Estate Agents Act and its subsidiary legislation. To give the industry a “fresh start”, CEA will only take into account records resulting from information or complaints received by CEA on or after 30 July 2021.
Detailed information on the LOC Disciplinary Regime
Click here to download detailed information about the LOC disciplinary regime.
Click here to download diagrammatic explanations to the LOC disciplinary regime.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to download FAQs to the LOC disciplinary regime.