An unlicensed real estate agent who improperly used a trust account has been ordered to pay $12, 678 in fines by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
Brisbane agent Damien Grimsey, the son of a real estate agent, illegally stepped in to take over the business when his father was hospitalised.
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading announced yesterday that Damien Grimsey had been found guilty of operating without a licence and the improper use of a trust account.
Mr Grimsey was fined $5,000 for trading without a licence and disqualified from holding any form of real estate licence or certificate for seven years.
He was also ordered to pay $7,687 compensation to a client for failing to pass on an insurance claim payment.
Mr Grimsey operated without a licence from July 2008 to November 2008 and from May 2011 to January 2012.
“The tribunal heard Mr Grimsey stepped in to take over his father’s real estate business, State Invest Property Services, while his father was hospitalised,” the Office of Fair Trading said.
“After a receiver was placed in charge of State Invest Property Services, Mr Grimsey opened another trust account under a similar name and sent notices to clients falsely stating that normal trading would shortly resume under the new trust account.”
Fair Trading executive director Brian Bauer said family members cannot just assume unauthorised control of a licensed business, even in unfortunate circumstances.
“Consumers have the right to expect their real estate agent is appropriately licensed, and has the training and knowledge to be able to carry out the job properly," Mr Bauer said
Mr Bauer said a person needs a licence to perform duties such as renting or selling a property, showing a property to potential tenants and buyers, managing a property or advertising a property for rent or sale.
“The law does allow a principal licensee to appoint a substitute licensee for a period of not more than 30 days providing certain conditions are satisfied under the Property Occupations Act 2014,” he said.
Speaking to RPM previously, MAP Real Estate principal and director Michael Furlong has said that before listing with an agency, landlords should ask to see current and previous trust account audits.
“When landlords are looking for new business, I say to them ‘don’t worry about the fees, or how many cars they have or how good looking the staff are, go in and have a look at the way in which they manage their trust account, ask to see their last 2-3 year trust account audits’,” he said.
“If the agency isn’t prepared to give you that, why should you give them your $500,000 asset to manage?”