When to Talk and When to Keep Up Your Silence: Irem Code of Professional Ethics, Article 2: Confidentiality

By Nugiel, Mary Faith | Journal of Property Management, March-April 2014 | Go to article overview

When to Talk and When to Keep Up Your Silence: Irem Code of Professional Ethics, Article 2: Confidentiality


Nugiel, Mary Faith, Journal of Property Management


BY MARY FAITH NUGIEL, CPM, CMCA, AMS, PCAM

It is easy to see spot the ethics violation when a manager leaves a job to work for a new management company, or starts a new management company, and suddenly has a client that used to be with that managers previous management company. The IREM Code of Professional Ethics does not attempt to limit free trade, but it does prohibit plagiarizing and using confidential material, such as marketing information, client lists and pricing, to further one's own career to the detriment of another member of the Institute. It is clear that a Management Company owns the rights to its own client list and marketing materials. These cases are often cut and dry. What is often not clear is the other side of the same coin.

CONFIDENTIALITY NOT SO CUT AND DRY

Confidentiality, as defined by Article 2 of the Code, not only addresses nondisclosure of information for personal gain, it also prohibits disclosure to "friendly" sources such as contractors or industry professionals. It is clear that every successful manager works to establish a good working relationship with vendors, renters, condominium owners and other people that may work or live in the property managed. A good relationship is critical to success in this business. But when is friendly, too friendly? It is not always so easy to know.

A good manager interfaces well with many people. Often, the longer the working relationship, the smoother the management of the property. Regardless of the type of property, all managers depend on their contractors and professional relationships to afford them a quick response time and a guarantee of excellent service. What happens, however, when those relationships are stretched too far? It is very easy for a manager to get caught up in work friendships and put professional ethics on the line.

Situation 1: Let's take the case where a condominium manager discloses information on units for rent to a real estate broker. By all appearances, this looks like the association board has endorsed one particular broker. …

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