Real Estate Violations Caught on Camera
August 17, 2018 |
We’ve all been tempted, and maybe some of us have given in, to peak into a host’s medicine cabinet or under their sink. Not to steal anything, but just to be nosey. Hidden security cameras capture both the curious and the criminals and real estate licensees are no exception. With the popularity of indoor cameras comes a rise in homeowner complaints about agents snooping in their home. The result can be extreme, such as criminal charges for burglary and possession of burglary tools to loss of licensure for ethics violations.
This month the Superintendent of Real Estate charged a salesperson with misconduct and ethics violations for opening and examining the interior of drawers to a jewelry armoire in the owner’s bedroom. The charge alleges the salesperson failed to maintain professional conduct and integrity in dealings with members of the public. If the violations are proven, the salesperson may be disciplined, including possible license suspension or revocation. Worse yet, any disciple will be a public record and could cause irreparable damage to the salesperson’s reputation.
Earlier this year a Vancouver real estate agent was sentenced for stealing oxycodone tablets from the home he was showing to a client. The homeowner’s nanny camera caught the agent accessing a kitchen cabinet and stealing twelve pills from a medicine bottle. In February, a Chicago area agent was convicted of residential burglary for stealing jewelry from homes to support a drug habit. During the investigation, investigators learned the agent booked more showings than any other agent in the Chicago area.
Caught on camera complaints are not just limited to nosey or criminal agents. Some agents have made headlines for carrying on affairs in listed homes. Common also are videos of agents misrepresenting information or worse yet lying to clients. YouTube is full of videos showing agents puffing, glossing over and outright falsifying everything from their own credentials to transactional details. Although this conduct may not be criminal, it could expose agents to license law sanctions and civil liability for damages associated with a client’s reliance on the agent’s representations.
Both legal and ethical standards require agents to act honestly and in a matter that is loyal to both their clients and the profession. Great care should be taken to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety. And when you’re feeling a little curious, resist the urge to cross that boundary and snoop. Conducting all business as if you’re on camera is the best way to assure you’re not the subject of any caught on camera complaints. On or off camera, even honest mistakes can lead to litigation.