Professional conduct and obligations – estate agents

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Professional conduct

The Estate Agents (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2018 set out the standard of conduct expected of agents and agents' representatives in their day-to-day dealings with clients (sellers and landlords) and consumers (buyers and tenants).

They are in addition to the obligations set out under legislation such as the:

  • Estate Agents Act 1980
  • Sale of Land Act 1962
  • Residential Tenancies Act 1997
  • Retail Leases Act 2003
  • Australian Consumer Law and Fair Trading Act 2012.

Obligations

In summary, estate agents and agents’ representatives must:

  • know the relevant laws
  • follow their client’s lawful instructions, except if it would not be good estate agency practice
  • act fairly, honestly, in good faith and to the best of their knowledge and ability at all times
  • act in their client’s best interests, except if it would be unlawful, unreasonable, improper or against their client’s instructions
  • disclose to their client any personal or commercial relationship they have with a supplier, if they recommend that supplier
  • exercise skill, care and diligence in performing their functions
  • complete all work for a client as soon as reasonably possible
  • be timely and courteous in all dealings when carrying out their duties
  • immediately inform a seller if, contrary to the contract, a deposit is not received for a sale
  • promptly notify a landlord of any breach of a tenancy agreement, unless instructed otherwise by a landlord in writing
  • make all reasonable enquiries to ascertain information relevant to a transaction
  • provide all verbal and written offers to a client, unless instructed otherwise by a client in writing
  • inform the person making an offer that it will not be submitted to the principal, if principal’s instructions to the agent are to not inform them of offers
  • promptly respond to a tenant’s request for maintenance and repairs and notify the tenant of a landlord’s response
  • inform the landlord if the landlord’s failure to carry out maintenance or repairs would constitute a breach of the agreement or the Residential Tenancies Act 1997
  • when acting as a buyer’s agent keep the purchaser informed of each stage of the negotiations
  • provide advice about the agency’s dispute resolution procedure before or as soon as possible after a tenancy agreement is signed
  • minimise disputes with clients
  • advise clients and consumers about the agency’ complaint and dispute resolution procedures.

In summary, estate agents and agents’ representatives must not:

  • use or disclose confidential information they obtain while acting for a client, unless authorised by the client or required by law to do so
  • induce a client to enter into an agency authority that may lead to commission being paid to more than one estate agent, without first giving them written advice of the possible consequences
  • put their interests in conflict with those of their client by acting for another person
  • accept commission from both a client and a consumer for the same transaction
  • induce a person to breach any contract
  • mislead a tenant, a prospective purchaser or a purchaser about a landlord's or seller's instructions
  • engage in conduct that is unprofessional or detrimental to the estate agency industry
  • convey bids made after a property has been knocked down at a public auction, unless a contract is not signed.

For information on the penalties for breaches, view our Penalties - Estate agents page.

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