One property company has been punished by the state regulator after falsely implying that it was affiliated with the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
Consumer Affairs Victoria announced that it had accepted an enforceable undertaking from Accrue Property and that the Melbourne firm would pay $5,000 to the Victorian Consumer Law Fund.
Accrue “agreed to amend information from its website that, in the view of the director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, is false or misleading”.
It also acknowledged that “its conduct, in the director of Consumer Affairs Victoria’s view, contravened the Australian Consumer Law”.
Consumer Affairs found that Accrue had made nine false or misleading statements on its website.
One of these claims was that Accrue had “negotiated with major government representatives” to apply the National Rental Affordability Scheme (NRAS) to low-density houses within 12 kilometres of Melbourne’s CBD that had been sourced via Accrue.
Another claim was that “prospective tenants must earn a minimum of $42,000 a year” and are “screened more thoroughly than any other normal applicant” to a property not backed by the National Rental Affordability Scheme.
Accrue also said it could show investors how to use their superannuation to earn strong returns regardless of market conditions – but that “government representatives have only allocated a small amount of NRAS licences to be used under this technique”.
Consumer Affairs also found that Accrue had published testimonials that claimed to be from its clients but were actually from clients of a related company.
The regulator said Accrue had agreed to remove all false or misleading claims from its website and to submit to a two-year compliance program to ensure all company statements comply with the Australian Consumer Law.
The NRAS offers incentives to people to build and rent homes to lower-income households at rates at least 20 per cent below market-value.