Consumer Protection in Western Australia has warned real estate agents about late bond lodgements after a Perth agency was fined $10,000 by the Perth Magistrates Court.
Dalgon Pty Ltd, formerly trading as ACTON West and now trading as ACTON Cottesloe, pleaded guilty in a Perth Magistrates Court last Friday to 27 charges of failing to lodge security bond money with the Bond Administrator. It was ordered to pay court costs of $275.
Consumer Protection told the court the bond money, which totalled almost $60,000, was collected between February and November 2011 from 27 tenants who had rented properties in various suburbs, including Mosman Park, Nedlands, Cottesloe, Claremont, Wembley Downs and Maylands.
At the time of the offences, the agency was required to either lodge the bonds with the Bond Administrator or in a separate tenancy bond trust account with an authorised institution as soon as it was practicable.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said bonds were being lodged with the Bond Administrator one to three months after collection and the agency had been warned on several occasions.
“For real estate agents, there should be no reason why bonds cannot be lodged the following business day,” she said.
“Consumer Protection will take action against agents or landlords who retain these funds for an unreasonable amount of time and fail to comply with the law.”
Director of ACTON Cottesloe Bev Heymans told Real Estate Business that Consumer Protection was right in what they did.
“Very simply, we were totally at fault,” she said. “I’m actually quite grateful that they brought it to my attention.
“I think the rules are there to protect the consumer and although in this instance there’s no harm to the consumer, we have to be stringent in applying the rules and in this instance we weren’t stringent enough.
“It’s our responsibility and I think it was a lesson I was quite grateful to receive."
Ms Heymans said her office had since changed their systems 12 months ago.