21 Sep 2016

No need to tell buyers about drug house rumours - tribunal

12:28 pm on 21 September 2016

A real estate agent who failed to tell a couple she was selling them a rumoured drug house has won an appeal against censure.

Annie Yong-Mewburn was initially censured and fined $3000 by a complaints committee, but has now successfully appealed.

A house for sale sign outside a home (stock shot).

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal ruled the agent did not need to tell purchasers about a rumoured drug house. Photo: 123RF

The industry's disciplinary tribunal has ruled she did not need to tell the couple because it would have been unfair to the sellers to pass on a rumour.

Read the full Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal ruling here.

Soon after moving in to the house in the affluent north Auckland suburb Greenhithe the couple were visited by police and warned to expect a visit from undesirable people.

They were told they were living in a "known drug house".

The couple subsequently made a complaint about Ms Yong-Mewburn.

They told the tribunal the situation was "unsettling".

The agent admitted she was aware of some gossip among neighbours, but told the couple she did not think it necessary to tell them.

A drug test of the property came back negative.

The disciplinary tribunal's decision also revealed her branch manager at Barfoot & Thompson had instructed her to tell any potential buyers.

However, the tribunal found she did not need to tell the couple about an unproven rumour.

"There is a fine line between over-disclosure of facts that may damage a vendor's right to sell their property at a fair market price and under-disclosure which is unfair to a purchaser," the decision said.

"In this case we consider that Ms Yong-Mewburn appropriately achieved the right balance."

In reviewing whether she should have ignored her branch manager, the tribunal's members described her as a "conscientious agent who had thought about her obligations".