A Perth property manager has been fined for taking too long to deposit tenants’ money, which was then stolen after thieves broke into his office.
Consumer Protection Western Australia said that Chukwudi Nnamdi Ejindu, trading as Black Swan Real Estate of Landsdale, took between four and 14 business days to deposit cash received from tenants into the agency’s trust account.
This involved 13 cash payments made between January 2013 and June 2014, which Mr Ejindu held in his office safe, according to Consumer Protection WA.
The Real Estate and Business Agents Act requires tenants’ money to be deposited as soon as practicable.
Black Swan’s failure to promptly bank the payments was exploited by thieves, who broke into the office and stole the money, according to the regulator.
Mr Ejindu was fined $3,000 by Consumer Protection. RPM gave Mr Ejindu the opportunity to comment, but he failed to reply to multiple voice messages.
Consumer Protection said that Black Swan also took two to six days to record 10 electronic payments from tenants in its trust account ledger, when this is required to be done by the following business day.
Acting commissioner for consumer protection Gary Newcombe said it’s essential that trust accounts are operated according to the law to maintain the public’s confidence in the industry.
“Real estate agencies and property management companies hold large amounts of money in trust for tenants and property owners – that’s why there are strict rules surrounding the handling of those funds and regular auditing of trust accounts,” he said.
“Taking up to two weeks to place clients’ money into a trust account is not seen as soon as practicable at law, nor is it acceptable.”
Mr Newcombe noted that while the affected clients eventually received their money, property managers should be aware of the procedures relating to the handling of bond and rent payments to ensure funds are handled for in accordance with the law.