Disgruntled landlords have helped trigger an investigation that led to the conviction of a former real estate professional.
Neale John Emanuel was convicted in the ACT Magistrates Court of acting as an unlicensed agent, thereby breaching the ACT's Agents Act 2003 and the federal Competition & Consumer Act 2010.
The Office of Regulatory Services said Mr Emanuel was found guilty of making “false and misleading representations” to landlords and tenants.
“Mr Emanuel was previously a licensed real estate agent, however, his licence expired in 2006,” the regulator said. “He subsequently engaged in real estate property management for several properties while unlicensed.”
The court ruled that Mr Emanuel “willingly exposed his clients to serious risks” by failing to obtain the required licence, according to the Office of Regulatory Services.
Mr Emanuel was placed on an 18-month good behaviour order, fined $7,500 and ordered to pay court costs.
ACT fair trading commissioner David Snowden said the regulator began investigating Mr Emanuel’s business affairs following complaints by landlords and tenants.
“The law provides consumers with a range of protections which cannot be applied if you deal with an unlicensed agent,” Mr Snowden said.
“Individuals who are not licensed undermine the integrity of the law. This judgment reinforces that strict penalties can apply to those who do the wrong thing.”
Mr Snowden said real estate professionals hold a position of responsibility and warned that they would face serious consequences if caught misleading the public.
The Office of Regulatory Services reminded consumers that they should always deal with a licensed agent in property matters.
[Related: Principal found guilty of scamming landlords]