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I am a real estate broker and property manager in that

I am a real...

I am a real estate broker and property manager in that capacity. One of my tenants stopped paying rent and when I contacted him about this matter, he alleged that I was not a licensed real estate agent and the owner of the property was not the legal owner, and thus I was acting illegally. Tenant also contacted the property owner by phone and email and said the same, and tenant sent an email to me stating that he had done this. Do you think I have a good cause for defamation case?

Lawyer's Assistant: What steps have you taken so far? Have you prepared or filed any paperwork?

I sent short email to tenant stating my "shock and stating that he had done me harm, sent tenant link to state agency with my license info, and sent a "cease and desist" letter by email. I have not contacted an attorney or filed anything yet.

Lawyer's Assistant: Where is the property located?

Hawaii

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I have several emails from tenant about this matter. Property owner is in foreclosure, and tenant alleges that he will not pay rent because of this too. Tenant alleges that bank owns property. (I did a title search and spoke to owner.) Property search shows owner is still owner of property, although he is in foreclosure. Subject property is a condo. Tenant sent an email to me with an implied threat after he received the cease and desist email from me.

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Answered in 1 minute by:
3/25/2018
Loren
Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37,292
Experience: 30 years experience representing clients.
Verified

Thank you for using JA. I am Loren, a licensed attorney for over 30 yrs., and I am here to help.

I am a certified expert on JustAnswer since 2009, with nearly 100% in satisfied customer ratings. So, we should be able to work through your problem.

I appreciate your patience as I review your question. I will post my response shortly.

This is general information and no attorney client relationship is established.

The site may ask you if you wish to speak by phone for an extra charge. Many find the phone call to be the easiest and fastest way to get the information they need without posting on a public forum. I am also happy to continue online.

There may be a slight delay in my replies as I am assisting other JA customers also. I will reply to your follow up questions.

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Have you suffered any actual financial damage as a result of the false statement made by the tenant?

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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
tenant put an offer on another condo to purchase in the same condo complex with another agent because he alleges I was not licensed. He refused to pay rent to enrich himself, and avoid paying a commission to me. My reputation has been harmed, My primary income come from my real estate business, some of which is at this property as a property manage.
Customer reply replied 26 days ago
I've been a licensed real estate agent for 40 years in this community. I have reason to believe tenant has told other people I do not have a real estate license and I have acted illegally.

Thank you for the additional information.

If you can show actual financial damages then you may have a viable claim to assert for defamation.

Actually, you would start with a cease and desist letter to anyone making these false accusations.

If this does not get a retraction, you will need to file suit for defamation. This cause of action is specifically for damage caused to one's reputation. To establish a prima facie case of defamation, four elements are generally required:

1. a false statement purporting to be fact concerning another person or entity;

2. publication or communication of that statement to a third person;

3. fault on the part of the person making the statement amounting to intent or at least negligence (the person knew the statements were false or exhibited a knowing and reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the statements when making them); and,

4. some harm caused to the person or entity who is the subject of the statement.

This involves complex litigation and it is strongly advised that you retain local counsel to assist you in protecting your rights before taking any action in court for this matter. Also, any cease and desist letter will carry more impact on attorney letterhead.

If you need assistance in finding an attorney, contact your state or local bar association. You can also try Martindale Hubble. Many attorneys themselves use this site to locate attorneys outside their jurisdiction or expertise:

http://www.martindale.com/Find-Lawyers-and-Law-Firms.aspx

It is a huge worldwide database of attorneys searchable by location and specialty.

I am happy to continue if you have further questions.

If (and only if) you are completely satisfied that your question is answered, please remember to leave a favorable rating (click 5 stars in the rating section on this page). It is the only way that I am credited by JustAnswer for answering your question.

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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
I know all of this. I wanted an opinion about the specific merits, of my case.

I think the tenant is free to use whomever they want to represent them in a purchase or sale, but if you can prove that their statement actually induced someone to stop using your services or reduced your earnings then it is a fairly straightforward case of defamation.

You are going to need to show actual financial losses that are not speculative.

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So, if you can show, for example, any building owner terminated your management contract as a result of this tenant's false statement, that would give rise to a viable claim of defamation.

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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
I provided all the info for the property. I was the procuring cause. I understand that people are free to use other agents. However, I showed the tenant properties for 2-3 years, and was promised he would pay me a commission if I found him a condo in the same complex, which II did. I think he called the listing agent and listing agent is involved in this mess too.
Customer reply replied 26 days ago
Listing agent is actually agent for bank that foreclosed on unit and I provided info for the bank's representative to the tenant too. Then tenant contacted agent directly instead of going through me.

Just to clarify, the tenant stopped using you as their agent based upon their mistaken belief?

This is not the case of a third party stopping the use of your services because the tenant told them you were unlicensed?

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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
The tenant has slandered me and libeled me by sending written communication regarding the status of real estate license, and alleging that I am conducting real estate transactions illegally. He sent email messages to a 3rd, party, the owner of the condo he is residing in, (and possibly other people in the community in which I live and work.) I have made my living as a real estate agent in this community for 40 years, and have established a good reputation over that time, similar to what attorneys do over a 40 year career. I want this to stop and I believe I have suffered general and possibly special damages as a result.
Customer reply replied 26 days ago
I believe the tenant slandered me for personal gain. Do you live and work in Hawaii? If not, can you recommend an attorney who lives in Hawaii that I may contact? Thank you.

You do not have to convince me.

Have your attorney send out a cease and desist letter.

If you are going to sue, in order to make out a prima facie case so that your complaint is not subject to dismissal, you are going to need to show actual financial damages. Generally, in this sort of situation, that would be the loss of clients or commissions due to a client stating they went to another broker because they believed the defamatory statement.

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Thank you for the vote of confidence. Unfortunately, I am not taking on new clients (retired).

If you need assistance finding local counsel try Martindale Hubble (site rules prohibit us from referring specific attorneys). Many attorneys, themselves, use this site to locate attorneys outside their jurisdiction or expertise:

http://www.martindale.com/Find-Lawyers-and-Law-Firms.aspx

It is a huge worldwide database searchable by location and specialty. The attorneys are peer rated. So, they represent the top of the profession.

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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
The $15k -$30k commission is not what I am most concerned about. It is my reputation in the community where I make my living as a sole proprietor via real estate matters.

Defamation is the claim for a damaged reputation. So, if you have actual financial damages stemming from this, that is the appropriate claim.

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Did you have further questions? Have I answered your question? Please let me know.

Loren
Loren, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 37,292
Experience: 30 years experience representing clients.
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Loren and 87 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
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Customer reply replied 26 days ago
Thank you for your time today.
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Loren
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