Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Estate agents fight over client database

An Auckland real estate agency leader is taking legal action against a statutory agency over the actions of an agent he once employed.

At issue is the alleged theft of a precious database containing details of inner-city high-rise apartment dwellers and their buildings.

The manager is bringing the case against the Real Estate Agents Authority in the High Court at Auckland on August 4.

His fight is with the agent, who went to work for a rival but whose office was this week telling clients he had been dismissed.

The manager's problem is over the privacy of the database his company amassed over more than a decade, which has the names and full contact details of people who live in 24,000 apartments in 450 buildings in the CBD. He says the agent's actions were criminal, dishonest and fraudulent.

The authority rejected hearing his case and suppressed names.

The agent said he kept his own database and was not secretive about it, showing it to others he worked with at the boss' firm. The 866 entries he made were all of owners he had called in the time he worked there, he told the authority.

But when he went to the rival firm, the boss claimed he continued to use the old company database.

The authority rejected the manager's complaint because the agent's actions did not fall within the definition of real estate work and the agent's explanations were plausible. He did nothing covert: at least three staff assisted him with his own database, it found.

In a written statement to the authority, the agent said he had wanted to stay at the first agency where he did so well and others there had admired his hard work and success.

But he conceded he should not have posted out some data and apologised for that error, wishing he could turn back the clock.

The manager says the agent's sudden exit from the new firm only strengthens the manager's case.

- NZ Herald

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