Rehabilitation is a process for an offender to reflect, change and improve so that he will not re-offend.
Under the Estate Agents Act, a real estate salesperson (RES) must fulfil the registration criteria, including being a “fit and proper” person. For consumer protection, CEA has a duty to ensure that an applicant is fit and proper to be registered as an RES. If he is not fit and proper under Section 3(2) of the Estate Agents Act, (e.g. he has been sentenced by the Courts for an offence involving violence), CEA would require him to observe a period of rehabilitation before he can be registered as an RES.
Fit and proper criterion
Under Section 3(2) of the EAA, a person is not a “fit and proper person” if CEA is of the view that he is not such a person after considering any relevant facts or matters.
For example, a person shall not be a “fit and proper person” if, amongst others:
- he has been convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or fraud;
- he has had a judgement entered against him in civil proceedings involving a finding of fraud, dishonesty or breach of fiduciary duties on his part;
- he has been convicted of any offence under the EAA; or
- he is an undischarged bankrupt, in liquidation, or has made a composition or arrangement with his creditors.
The “fit and proper” criterion is not restricted to the four aspects listed above. CEA is entitled to consider all other relevant facts or circumstances that may impact a person’s fitness and propriety to hold a property agent registration or property agency licence, which include criminal convictions (under the EAA or other laws); civil judgements, or any other enforcement or regulatory action taken by CEA or other regulatory or enforcement bodies.
If CEA determines that the RES or estate agent is not “fit and proper”, CEA may take the appropriate regulatory action to revoke the registration or licence of the RES or estate agent under Sections 54 and 55 of the EAA, or to reject their renewal for the next registration or licence period.
The RES or estate agent may require a period of rehabilitation for them to reflect, change and improve, so that they will not re-offend and pose any risk to consumers in the performance of estate agency work. CEA will evaluate and approve any applications to return to the industry upon sufficient rehabilitation, subject to the prevailing eligibility criteria for registration or licence.
Examples of offences where a rehabilitation period of 12 to 18 months may be warranted:
- Offences under Personal Data Protection Act
- Offences under Protection from Harassment Act
Case Example #1
RES A and RES B were convicted of one charge each under Section 267B of the Penal Code for committing affray and sentenced to a fine of $3,000 each by the State Courts. They were drunk and had intentionally disturbed public peace by fighting in a group with other persons, outside of conducting estate agency work.
CEA found RES A and RES B to be not fit and proper as the offences involved aggression and showed a lack of self-control in public. The inclination to behave in such manner could reasonably undermine the professionalism and reputation of the industry, in particular the need to safeguard public safety and interest.
CEA rejected both their applications to renew their registrations.
Examples of offences which may warrant a rehabilitation period of 18 to 36 months:
- Offences under Estate Agents Act
- Voluntarily Causing (Grievous) Hurt
- Cheating or Criminal Breach of Trust
Case Example #2
RES C was convicted of one charge under Section 148(2) of Women’s Charter, two charges under Section 9(1)(d) and one charge under Section 9(1)(a) of Remote Gambling Act 2014. RES C was sentenced to a total fine of $63,000 and 18 months’ imprisonment by the State Courts for these offences.
RES C represented a tenant and found a property in Geylang which the tenant was keen on. The tenant asked RES C to rent the premises on his behalf, claiming he would sublet to work permit holders and would pay him a monthly fee of $1,000 for his assistance. RES C agreed and the tenancy agreement was signed.
Shortly after, the tenant confessed to RES C that he was using the premises as a brothel. RES C did not report this to the authorities and instead renewed the tenancy of the unit for another year for the operation of vice activities within the unit.
In the course of investigations, RES C was also found to have been involved in illegal remote gambling. The total value of the illegal bets placed was over $1.3 million.
RES C’s scant regard for the law undermines the professionalism and reputation of the industry, in particular, the need to safeguard public law and order. The offence under the Women’s Charter involved vice and was conducted in the course of estate agency work. In addition, RES C facilitated the exchange of over $1.3 million in illegal bets, which is a considerable sum in relation to his misconduct.
CEA revoked RES C’s registration after he was convicted and sentenced by the Courts.
The above are general guides on the possible rehabilitation periods. CEA will assess each case based on its own facts and circumstances.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click here to download the frequently asked questions.