A Western Australian property manager has been fined $10,000 after she deceived landlords, tenants and even her employers over a two-year period.
Josephine Wei-Wei Liau of Mount Pleasant pleaded guilty earlier this month in the Perth Magistrates Court for 16 charges of various instances of misleading and deceptive conduct.
Consumer Protection told the Court that Ms Liau’s misrepresentations included advising owners of properties in Yangebup and Mount Pleasant that she was representing the agency, when in fact the agency had no record of the properties being under their management. Ms Liau used the agency’s logo in statements sent to the owners.
Ms Liau also deceived owners by lying about the amount of rent that was actually being paid.
One Mount Pleasant tenant was paying weekly rent of $950 while the owner of the property believed only $800 was being paid.
Another tenant was paying $380 in weekly rent while the owner was advised that $350 rent was being paid. When the tenant’s rent was subsequently increased to $400, the owner understood the rent payments had remained the same.
In both cases Ms Liau retained the difference.
Ms Liau made a similar misrepresentation regarding a water bill for a Willetton property.
She demanded six months’ rent in advance, totalling more than $30,000 from a tenant, and taking longer than 14 days to lodge bonds with the Bond Administrator.
The former property manager also advised clients she had a real estate agent’s licence when she only held a certificate of registration as a property manager from March 2010 and March 2013.
Magistrate Zempilas said the offences were serious and commissioner for consumer protection Anne Driscoll said such serious deception is unacceptable.
“Property managers have a trusted position as the liaison point between a property owner and a tenant, so they must display the highest standards of honesty and integrity as required by law,” Ms Driscoll said.
“Those who choose to profit from misleading and deceptive conduct in the real estate industry will face prosecution and suffer financial penalties as well as serious damage to their reputation.”