Real estate agent fined after holding viewings in meth-contaminated house

By Jimmy Ellingham

The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal found Gary Murphy held an open home at a Pukekohe property in October 2013 when he knew it was likely to test positive for P contamination. Photo / iStock
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal found Gary Murphy held an open home at a Pukekohe property in October 2013 when he knew it was likely to test positive for P contamination. Photo / iStock

An Auckland real estate agent who held an open home and private viewing of a former Head Hunters gang house contaminated with methamphetamine has been slapped with a fine.

Gary Murphy and the agency of which he is a director and shareholder, Property Link Groups Ltd, have each been penalised $2000 after the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal judged them guilty of unsatisfactory conduct.

It found Mr Murphy held an open home at the Pukekohe property in October 2013 when he knew it was likely to test positive for P contamination.

The tribunal's judgment says Mr Murphy was aware the deceased owner of the property was a known Head Hunters gang member.

The agent was given test results the day after the open home. The tests found traces of meth that were above recommended safe levels. Three days later he held a viewing of the property.

Those "serious prospective bidders" were allowed in despite Mr Murphy and his company not finding out if it was safe for them to do so, although the bidders were given a copy of the final report about the property's contamination.

One man told the tribunal he suffered temporarily from "some sort of chemical odour at the property".

Mr Murphy said he didn't know about the "drugs issue" until he received confirmation in the report.

The tribunal found Mr Murphy and his company not guilty of a misconduct charge and instead guilty of the less serious offence, having accepted they didn't know about the health risks until they received the report.

"We accept that real estate agents in such a situation are not expected to act like medical practitioners, but when a red flag would appear to a sensible person, they are expected to be open and candid and be more concerned for the health of the interested parties than to achieve a sale for their vendor client," says the tribunal's penalty decision, just made public.

The tribunal decided Mr Murphy and his company did not need any further training or education.

"We accept that the defendants did take some positive steps to ascertain if entering the property posed health risks, and they are remorseful of the circumstances we have detailed," the ruling says.

It also noted Mr Murphy's previous clean record and contribution to the industry.

Mr Murphy could not be contacted.

- NZ Herald

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