A West Australian real estate agent has been fined $2,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for failing to disclose to a purchaser during a Karratha commercial property deal that the strata company was involved in litigation.
According to a Department of Commerce statement, Cottesloe-based Beverly Jean Ockerby, who was working for Gemstone Holdings Pty Ltd, trading as Ockerby Real Estate, admitted breaching the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and the Code of Conduct for Agents and Sales Representatives.
The Department said that in April 2009, Ms Ockerby was the selling agent for a group of commercial units in Hedland Place, Karratha. The property was being sold by Gemstone Holdings Pty Ltd and, at the time, Ms Ockerby was a director and shareholder of the company.
Consumer Protection took disciplinary action against Ms Ockerby after she failed to disclose to a buyer that there was on-going legal action that directly involved the unit strata company.
“Gemstone Holdings Pty Ltd and the strata owners of the property were being sued in the Karratha Magistrates Court by an air conditioning contractor for the non-payment of $30,000 from work carried out on the unit,” the Department said.
“The fact this property was involved in litigation at the time of the sale is a matter material to the transaction and an issue that a prudent agent should have communicated to any potential purchaser.
“Ms Ockerby was both selling agent and part owner of the vendor company. Although she had informed the buyer of her dual roles, Ms Ockerby failed to fulfil her professional obligations to exercise due care, skill and diligence when she remained silent about the existence of litigation prior to the execution of the contract of sale.”
Commissioner for Consumer Protection, Anne Driscoll, said this case was "a clear breach of the law and code of conduct to keep secret any information that may impact a potential buyer’s decision to purchase a property”.
“Agents must disclose all relevant information on the properties they are selling so buyers in the market can make an informed decision. To withhold this information will have serious consequences.”