Consumer Affairs punishes agency and director

A Melbourne office has blamed staffing and software problems for failing to meet compliance regulations.

Consumer Affairs Victoria said GL Lee Real Estate and its director, Quoc Hung Ly, had breached the Estate Agents Act by failing to keep on top of their accounting responsibilities.

The Sunshine-based business and Mr Ly failed to keep full and accurate accounting records, according to Consumer Affairs.

The regulator said they also failed to have the agency’s trust accounts audited between 2008-2011 and failed to lodge copies of its trust account audit reports within the required time.

“The tribunal found that the company and Mr Ly engaged in conduct that was unprofessional or detrimental to the reputation or interests of the estate agency industry,” Consumer Affairs said.

“The tribunal also found that Mr Ly failed to comply with his statutory duties as officer in effective control of the company.”

Mr Ly told Real Estate Business that the compliance breaches had been honest mistakes, which had been caused by staffing and software problems.

“There were a few human errors: some girls came on board, they made a few mistakes, then they left and it just accumulated,” he said.

Mr Ly said the agency is searching for new software, which is expected to be easier to use than the old version and help reduce the potential for error.

“It’s just the rental account – it has a lot of transactions every day,” he said. “The sales and the tenancy is OK – there’s no problem with those.”

Consumer Affairs said the agency must stop using its in-house accounting software unless it, or some other trust accounting software, is certified as legally compliant by an auditor.

GL Lee Real Estate and Mr Ly must also pay $4,000 into the Victorian Property Fund, which is used by Consumer Affairs to fund grants and compensation claims.

The regulator said both parties could have their licences suspended if they failed to provide an unqualified trust account audit report within 90 days.

Their licences could then be cancelled if they still fail to produce the audit report within a further specified period.

[Related: Rogue agent banned after criminal proceedings]

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