Amended Estate Agents Act enables CEA to discipline minor breaches without disciplinary committee hearing
6th May 2020
The government has amended the Estate Agents Act (EEA) to allow the Council for Estate Agents (CEA), the governing body for this sector, to take timely disciplinary actions against errant estate agents and real estate salespersons.
The changes come on the back of an industry consultation exercise that was conducted from Dec 13 last year to Jan 9 this year. Feedback from 41 respondents came from estate agents and the Singapore Estate Agents Association.
In a press release, CEA says, “To further enhance the professionalism of the industry and maintain consumer trust and confidence, key executive officers and CEA will need to continue to work together to deter a minority group of errant estate agents and real estate salespersons from breaching the EAA and its regulations.”
The amended act allows CEA to censure errant estate agents and real estate salespersons, and to impose financial penalties of up to $5,000 for minor breaches without a Disciplinary Committee hearing.
The new changes to the law are expected to come into effect later this year.
In addition, the financial penalties imposed by the Discipline Committee will increase to $200,000 per case for estate agents and to $100,000 per case for real estate salespersons.
“The increase will enable CEA to tackle more serious cases in future that may warrant higher financial penalties, and more importantly, to send the right signals to the industry to deter breaches,” says CEA.
The amendment also tightens Singapore’s regulations concerning money laundering and terrorism financing and aligning it with international standards. These standards are based on recommendations by the Financial Action Task Force, an international body tackling the issue and which Singapore is a member.
The duties of estate agents and real estate agents on the prevention of money laundering and terrorism financing will be elevated to requirements under the amended act. Such duties were previously obligations under CEA’s practice guidelines.
This means agents need to conduct and record customer due diligence checks and report any suspicious transactions.
The amended law was passed on May 5 and is expected to come into force in mid-2020, says CEA.