The Department of Consumer Affairs (DACO) imposed more than twenty fines against several real estate brokers for, among other things, advertising through different electronic platforms real estate properties for sale that are not available, in order to attract to the consumer and try to sell him another property.
“The investigation conducted by the Department covered more than 50 real estate brokers. A large number of brokers advertise or keep current property ads that they know they do not have available for sale with the sole purpose of attracting more customers. When the consumer calls, they tell him that the property they are asking for is not available, but they start offering others. This is a practice that has been increasing, particularly with the proliferation of digital platforms that offer property in Puerto Rico and that we will continue to monitor, “explained the secretary of DACO, Michel Pierluisi, in written statements.
This practice constitutes a violation of the Regulations Against Deceptive Practices and Ads and Act. No. 10 of April 26, 1994, as amended, known as the “Act to Regulate the Real Estate Industry, Broker and Seller professions, and Real Estate Companies in Puerto Rico.”
According to Rule 7 of the Regulation Against Deceptive Practices and Ads, it is a deceptive practice to “advertise a good or a service for sale and not have it available.” Likewise, Rule 17 of the Regulation for the Sale of Properties Located Inside and Outside Puerto Rico, establishes that “Sellers, Brokers, Real Estate Companies and Owners that are advertised directly or indirectly in Puerto Rico, shall be obliged to comply fully with the provisions of the Deceptive Practices and Ads Regulations. ”
On several occasions, in addition, the photos of the properties did not correspond to reality and the advertised price was not the correct one. In other cases, the announcements did not present the complete information required by law, such as the name of the broker and the license number to operate, thus violating Law No. 10, which establishes as a proscribed practice “to be used in any advertisement or medium of promotion only a telephone number and / or address, without indicating the name of the broker or company in question, as well as its license number to operate. ”
A few months ago, I took the concern to the Board of Brokers, Sellers and Real Estate Companies, which issues the licenses of the profession. I anticipated I would be taking action against this practice that affects consumers. These fines will be referred to the Board for them to do their own investigation and take the pertinent actions, including the possible suspension of licenses, “he added.
The Secretary invited consumers and other brokers to identify brokers who engage in these practices to contact DACO. To do this, the DACO has online tools for filing complaints or confidences, through daco.pr.gov.