News: Unlicensed property agent taken to court

Mar 14, 2019

Her approach included introducing herself as a part-time property agent who could help landlords find a tenant for a commission.

Vanessa Thien Cai Yan, a 43-year-old Singaporean woman, has been charged in court for allegedly working as real estate agent without a licence, revealed the Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) on Wednesday (13 Mar).

CEA revealed that Thien’s approach was to message individuals who had placed rental ads on the internet and introduce herself as a part-time property agent who could help them find a tenant for a commission.

On 2 October 2017, Thien allegedly posed as a part-time property agent when she contacted a property agent at Carousell, offering to co-broke a rental transaction for a room at an HDB flat in Punggol that was advertised on the website.

Thien allegedly said that she had would-be tenants that might be interested in the room, and asked for half of the commission that would be received from the landlord once the rental transaction was concluded.

After a tip-off on Thien, CEA said it conducted a surveillance on her online accounts. Further investigations showed that the accused represented herself as a part-time agent to potential occupants and to family members of an owner of another HDB flat in Punggol who posted a rental ad on Carousell. In exchange for her help, Thien asked for 25 percent of one month’s rent as commission from the landlord if she managed to find a tenant.

Sometime in November to December 2017, Thien also allegedly helped a property owner rent out a room at another HDB flat at Sengkang. She posted a rental ad on Facebook, secured a tenant, and then obtained commission of $137.50 from the owner.

Consequently, CEA brought four charges against Thien for violating the Estate Agency’s Act. Three charges involved Section 28(1)(c) of the act, which prohibits persons from holding out as being ready to undertake, whether or not for payment or other remuneration (whether monetary or otherwise), estate agency work as an estate agent without first being licensed by CEA. The last charge involves Section 28(1)(b), which disallows individuals from acting as an estate agent without first being licensed by CEA.

The punishment for each charge is a maximum jail term of three years and/or a fine of up to $75,000.

CEA also advises consumers to verify if an entity or individual is licensed to undertake property agency work by checking its Public Register.

Find licensed property agents who can help you in your Singapore Property search.


Romesh Navaratnarajah, Senior Editor at PropertyGuru, edited this story. To contact him about this or other stories, email

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Brandon Chong
Senior Marketing Director
CEA Licence No.:
L3002382K / R058422G
+(65) 9154 1182