Friday, April 27, 2012

Industrial property agents under probe

Straits Times: Fri, Apr 27
SALES agents who allegedly provided misleading information on industrial properties are being investigated by the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA).

The statutory board told The Straits Times that it has received complaints on 26 sales people, most lodged this year, but did not give any more details.

'Under CEA's Code of Ethics and Professional Client Care, real estate sales persons are required to comply with the law when conducting their work and must not do anything that may lead to the infringement of the law by any person,' a CEA spokesman said.

National Development Minister Khaw Boon Wan highlighted the need to keep non-industrial-related businesses from renting what can be highly sought-after spaces.

He also suggested last month that sharp practices by developers and their marketing agents could be prompting unwitting investors to buy small industrial units thinking they would be easy to rent.

Agents can face disciplinary actions such as warnings, fines, revocation or suspension of registration if found to be in breach of the rules.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) also said it has been 'initiating investigations into unauthorised uses that have come to our attention'.

'If the unauthorised use does not cease within the stipulated timeframe, the person responsible may be charged in court and if convicted... (could) be fined up to $200,000 or imprisoned for a term of up to 12 months or both.'

The Straits Times understands that at least one consultancy firm in the Alexandra estate received notice in February to move out of the industrial premises it has occupied for about three years. An employee who declined to be named said: 'We are in the process of finding a new space and moving out although it's not easy to find a space that fits all our needs.

'But URA is reasonable so it seems that as long as you show that you are doing something and you have the intention of moving out, URA is understanding and might give the company sufficient time to find an alternative space.'

But not all buildings have seen enforcement action. Straits Times checks on Jalan Pemimpin's Clarus Centre and Henderson Industrial Park yesterday found that non-industrial tenants such as travel and tuition agency offices were still there. Other companies with offices in industrial property also say they have not received eviction notices.

Global Property Strategic Alliance chief executive Jeffrey Hong noted the problem of unauthorised tenants in industrial spaces is widespread and enforcing the rules could be difficult and lengthy...
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