15 July 2012

Brokers to take heat for rules breaches

DUBAI // The Dubai Land Department plans to fine individual brokers who flout rules and breach client privacy, rather than penalising their brokerages.

The proposal is part of a scheme to better regulate the property market.

The department’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) says fining brokers directly will promote transparency in the market.

The agency says brokers are passing on confidential information or handling transactions without the approval of their employers.

Sultan Al Suwaidi, the section manager of the property permits and inspection section, said Rera had begun a study to monitor infringements by brokers.

Mr Al Suwaidi said early findings showed the main breaches included cooperating with unlicensed brokers, failing to keep the privacy of the company and client, using office phones for promoting deals without approval, and closing contracts without their employers knowing.

Officials have not yet set a definite time from which fines would be enforced, or the amount of those fines.

Residents who have been harassed by unsolicited calls from brokers have supported the plan.

“It would help the legitimate brokers, because the unregistered brokers are the ones who get hold of sellers’ or leasers’ mobile numbers and then claim to have ready buyers at ridiculous prices,” said Julian Nicholas, a resident of the Green Community.

“When you place your details on a website to sell or lease your house, brokers see the sign and contact you directly.

“You don’t know whether you are dealing with a Rera-certified broker. But fining unlisted brokers will be a good way to stop this.”

Mr Nicholas said he had dealt with a stream of phone calls and emails from persistent brokers.

Brokerages also welcomed the initiative but said it would be difficult to implement.

They said residents sometimes worked with unlicensed brokers who charged them a fee lower than the 2 per cent they must pay brokerages.

Brokers also passed on vital property information without authorisation.

“How will this be traced?” asked Salik Ashrafi, a property adviser at a brokerage.

“There is no documentation. Information is passed on the phone or by word of mouth.

“It is a good idea but tough to implement. It’s very beneficial for real estate agents and brokers to be registered because rules are followed. It’s unfair when freelancers are allowed to get away and close deals.”

Yousef Al Hashmi, director of Rera’s licensing department, said the new mechanism was discussed in meetings with brokerages.

Protecting the rights of the clients was important, Mr Al Hashmi said.

Twenty-two property companies and brokerages were fined a total of Dh900,000 for repeated infringements last month.

Rera found breaches over a six-month period including failure to register the company, not registering licences, or failing to renew broker-identity cards.

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Source: www.TheNational.ae