A Perth real estate agency and its former property manager have been hit with a large fine by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for breaching the Real Estate and Business Agents Act.
Prosser Real Estate Agent, trading as Swan River Estate, was fined a total of $15,000 and ordered to pay court costs of $2,500.
Former property manager Julia Barratt-Hill was fined $8,000 and ordered to pay court costs of $1,000.
Licensee Lorraine Florence Prosser was fined $5,000 for failing to properly supervise the agency business and ensure Ms Barratt-Hill, an employee of the agency from 2003 to 2011, complied with the industry code of conduct between 2009 and 2011.
Consumer Protection took disciplinary action against Ms Barratt-Hill in relation to fabricating an owner’s statement, knowingly misleading owners of a property into believing their property was tenanted when it wasn’t, failing to deal with rent payments in relation to a property in an organised and competent way, and failing to keep owners of a property informed about the lease agreement when asked repeatedly.
In determining the penalty, the SAT took into consideration the fact the company and its directors had reimbursed funds into the trust account and no clients were out of pocket as a result of the breaches.
Commissioner for consumer protection Anne Driscoll said there is an obligation for all licensed real estate agents and their employees to adhere to all laws relating to the operation of their agency.
“The basic foundation of the code of conduct is for agents to have fair, honest and transparent dealings with property owners at all times in terms of disclosure of accurate information about the tenancy, the provision of copies of lease agreements and the timely release of financial statements,” she said.
“It is also an obligation of licensed real estate agents to operate their trust and operating accounts in a way that complies fully with the law. Financial records should be kept up to date and organised in such a way that allows for easy checking and auditing.”