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Case Study 1

ROC Case Study - 01

These case studies are examples to help you to apply the Rules of Conduct in situations that may arise in your professional practice.

When making ethical professional decisions, you need to:

  • consider the facts
  • identify the relevant RICS standards in the Rules of Conduct and other guidance
  • use your professional judgement, which may require you to balance different interests and principles.

What matters is that you can show that you have done your best to follow the professional standards set by RICS.

Read the case studies below

Scenario 1

I’ve advised my client on the market rent for their property, but they want me to make an opening offer in negotiations with the other party that is higher, even though the tenant is a charity. Can I do this under the Rules?

Summary

  • RICS members can negotiate on behalf of clients.
  • Be clear about when you are giving professional opinion and when you are acting as an advocate.
  • Don’t bully the other side or take unfair advantage of vulnerability.
  • In the absence of any provision in legislation in a specific circumstance, clients who own property in a market economy are entitled to ask any rent they consider appropriate from a tenant.
  • There is a public interest in those clients being advised by an appropriately qualified professional as this protects the client and other stakeholders.
  • Professional work should be done diligently in accordance with a client’s instructions.

Rules and behaviours

Rules 1,3, 4 and 5 and behaviours 1.1, 1.5, 1.8, 3.5, 3.10 and 4.3 could all be relevant in this scenario.

In practice most of these will apply depending on the circumstances and all need to be considered.

You might want to advise the client about the sustainability of charging a rent far over the market value from the point of view of retaining tenants, but behaviour 3.10 does not mean you have to advise a landlord not to profit from their assets.

Commentary

The fact that the tenant has a purpose that provides some social good does not mean that the client cannot seek to charge them the rent they want for the use of their property.
Ultimately, you can negotiate on behalf of your client but you must not bully or mislead the tenant. Behaviour 1.8 is more nuanced and most likely to apply where the tenant is not represented by another professional. It is proper to use your professional skills and knowledge to provide an advantage to your client, which might to some extent disadvantage the other party.
However, if you provide an advantage improperly (for example, by allowing the negotiation to proceed without correcting an obvious misunderstanding about the property or the terms; or failing to take particular care where you knew you were dealing with a vulnerable client) you might be asked whether you had acted with integrity.