Agent for 'rubbish-dump' Mid-Levels flats fined HK$244,000

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 October, 2012, 3:17am

The property agent in charge of selling The Icon luxury Mid-Levels development was fined HK$244,000 yesterday after issuing misleading promotional materials for "rubbish dump" flats.

In addition Chow Kwok-hung, a member of staff of the agent, Centaline Property Agency, was fined HK$10,000 and reprimanded for making misleading statements to buyers.

Buyers complained about the state of the flats when they took possession of them last year.

One buyer complained that her HK$10 million flat looked like a "rubbish dump" - a reference to unfinished flooring and piles of construction debris lying around. She said she took possession of it one month after completing the purchase.

Later, most of the 26 buyers - who had paid between HK$8.7 million and HK$12.88 million for their flats - accepted a buy-back offer from the developer or compensation.

The penalties were handed out by industry watchdog the Estate Agents Authority following a disciplinary hearing in August in which people who had bought flats at The Icon gave evidence.

Centaline was sole agent for sales at the 17-storey Conduit Road project, built by developer Winfoong International.

It is rare for the authority to lay charges of misleading buyers against a real estate firm, and Louis Chan Wing-kit, managing director of Centaline, said the company would appeal against the verdicts, including that on Chow.

During the disciplinary hearing, a customer testified that Chow had told her the flat would have an open kitchen - as featured in the agents' promotional leaflets - but she found the actual kitchen was enclosed.

Winfoong said at the hearing that it had not vetted Centaline's leaflets. The watchdog requires property agents to use promotional materials that are endorsed by the developer.