Real estate agent cleared of telling porkies about plumbing

Stu Fleming was found to not have  withheld information from people who bought a house with an incorrect pump installed.
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Stu Fleming was found to not have withheld information from people who bought a house with an incorrect pump installed.

A real estate principal has been cleared of wrongdoing, after a newly bought house flooded and he was accused of not telling the buyers about a faulty pump.

However, the investigation dug up an unrelated indiscretion on the agent's part, which he is not being punished for.

Stu Fleming, principal of Ray White Palmerston North and Ray White Feilding, was taken to the Real Estate Agent's Authority by people who bought a house he marketed.

According to the authority's decision, Fleming sold the house to a couple in 2016.

They went to an open home beforehand, where they claimed they asked Fleming what was wrong with the house.

Fleming said a previous tenant had flooding downstairs, but the issue was "all sorted now".

A building report found no problems, although the couple did not get a specialist plumbing opinion because of the assurances they were given.

The downstairs laundry flooded while a load of washing was on soon after they bought the property.

It was discovered a pump in the house was the wrong kind, but Fleming said he had no idea it was wrong.

The new home owners said they had called a plumber, who said he told the former owners about the pump.

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The new owners wanted Fleming to admit he was wrong, reimburse them $4000 they spent on a new pump and be reminded he works for consumers over himself.

Fleming told the authority he was told about previous pump issues, but believed it was a one-off occurrence, which he told prospective buyers about.

The former owners of the house told the authority there had been problems with the pump, but that was because a tenant flushed sanitary pads down the toilet.

There were no issues after the pads were removed, the former owners said.

A former tenant said plumbers were called whenever there were problems, but was unaware of what the ultimate issue was.

The authority was not satisfied, on the balance of probabilities, Fleming withheld information from the buyers.

However, the house sellers should have told him more information about the pump, the authority said.

During the course of the investigation, the authority found Fleming had erred in a different way by failing in his obligation to not offer or market the property unless he had an agency agreement allowing him to do so.

Fleming himself was the one to reveal the error, volunteering the information immediately, the authority's decision says.

He had an agreement from when the property was listed in 2015, but did not get one for when the property was put back on the market in 2016.

The authority found Fleming's behaviour amounted to unsatisfactory conduct, but did not give Fleming any punishment, describing the incident as a "simple oversight".

 - Stuff

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