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Can I sue my real estate agent for negligence? Take a look at this real-life Sydney case

You lease or buy a property, and then get hurt on the premises due to a dangerous issue of which the real estate agent was aware. Do you have recourse? At Gerard Malouf & Partners, we can help you pursue a successful claim against a real estate agent on the grounds of professional negligence.

What is negligence in real estate?

Your real estate agent is a professional, and as such has a duty of care and can be guilty of professional negligence or breach of contract if they do not appropriately discharge that duty of care.

In several instances, real estate agents have been successfully sued by tenants who leased on their advice, after the real estate agent failed to disclose specific issues with the property (of which the agent was aware, and which posed a danger.)

Under Australian law, it is unlawful for real estate agents to:

  • Provide you with a false impression or lead you to a wrong conclusion
  • Intentionally mislead you or make false or inaccurate claims
  • Leave out or cover up important information (using fine print disclaimers, for example)

Whether the agent meant to mislead or deceive you, how you perceived the conduct can have bearing on whether you have a claim.

What can you sue your realtor for?

Real estate agents who are appointed as the sales or leasing agent for a property have a duty to disclose a number of matters. If a real estate agent fails to comply, you have grounds not only to terminate your lease or purchase agreement, but you can actually take legal actions against the agent for professional or unsatisfactory misconduct.

You can sue your realtor for failure to disclose any of the following:

  • Council approvals (or lack of)
  • Disputes over trees and fences
  • Body corporate matters
  • History of the property
  • Material facts (including dangerous conditions)

What is breach of contract in real estate?

When it comes to property law, realtors have a clear duty of care to buyers and sellers as well as leasing parties. A breach of contract in real estate can occur on the part of seller, buyer or real estate agent acts or omissions.

If you sue your real estate agent for breach of contract, you may have a claim for professional negligence if the claim is related to misleading information about the property, especially if it resulted in a personal injury or property damage.

How do you file a complaint against a real estate agent?

The experienced professional negligence litigators at Gerard Malouf & Partners can provide you with legal advice and help you file your claim against a negligent real estate agent. The main burden of proof is that negligence was committed.

If you suffered injury because of misleading or undisclosed information about the property, and the real estate agent was aware of the issue, they can be held liable for your claim. Having a personal injury attorney guiding you through the claims process can increase your chance of a satisfactory award or settlement.

A realtor or broker should always have professional indemnity insurance, so make sure you ask before engaging in the purchase, sale or leasing of a property. That way you have some recourse for failure to exercise full disclosure or intentional fraud on the part of the agent.

Case Study: Can someone sue a real estate agent for not disclosing a water problem?

Case Overview

The real estate agent was acting as property manager of the premises on behalf of the unit owner (also a defendant against a claim from our client), pursuant to a residential tenancy agreement. Our client was a lawful entrant on the premises pursuant to the signed lease agreement when she slipped on a pool of water which had leaked from the shower recess onto the floor.

Our client suffered serious injuries due to her fall, including an injury to her left knee, a back injury, and lacerations to her ring finger, as well as psychological harm. She required hospitalisation and surgery to her right ring finger, and experienced significant loss of blood at the time.

Our Approach

We made an allegation of negligence against the owner of the unit as well as the real estate agent that they never took reasonable steps to ensure that the premises were safe, fit and habitable, and in a state of good and serviceable repair. We further put forth that both defendants knew (by way of multiple complaints made by our client) that the shower recess was leaking and unsafe, and that they failed to repair, replace and prevent water leaking from the shower recess.

Photographs and expert evidence were provided, and our client was also referred for treatment from doctors and specialists to address the nature and extent of her injuries. She sustained continuing disabilities arising from the accident, including permanent impairment in relation to her right hand, lower back and left knee.

Both defendants denied liability and disputed the medical expert evidence, but after the matter was listed for lengthy hearing before the court and the parties had exchanged their liability and medical evidence, all parties agreed on an informal settlement conference to put an end to the lawsuit.

This conference was held to settle the claims from our client for damages in negligence including non-economic loss, full permanent impairment, pain and suffering, past and future out-of-pocket expenses, past and future loss of wages, past and future loss of superannuation, and past and future care. The defendants agreed to settle our client’s claim out of court, and she was awarded substantial damages.

This constituted a great victory for a tenant leasing premises pursuant to a lease, who subsequently slipped, fell and sustained serious injuries as a result of negligence and subsequently sues the owner and real estate agent.

Key to the claim were the fact that they should have addressed the leaking water from the shower recess, and proof of our client’s previous multiple complaints concerning the leaking water and the risk that was posed to her whilst renting the unit.

There are significant legal obligations and duties of care placed upon the owner of a premises if they lease the premises, to ensure that the premises are in a fit, habitable, safe state of good and serviceable repair. This obligation doesn’t end with the owner, but also applies to real estate agents acting on their behalf for the purpose of leasing or selling property.

If you are a tenant of a premises and you believe you have been mislead by a real estate agent or put at risk due to their failure to disclose or act on a danger on the premises, and you have been severely injured on the premises due to the existing hazard, you may be able to sue the owner of the unit and the real estate agent in question pursuant to your lease agreement.

If you have suffered a permanent disability and/or financial loss due to professional negligence, errors or omissions on the part of a real estate agent, you stand to receive a substantial award of damages in compensation. Contact Gerard Malouf & Partners today to discuss your potential negligence claims against a realtor.

Nassir Bechara Lawyer

Nassir Bechara

Senior Associate
It means a lot to me to defend clients who have been significantly disabled by injuries which have been caused by the negligence of others and to be able to help them receive fair and proper compensation which in most cases will assist in changing their lives
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