A real estate agency has been reprimanded and fined for numerous law breaches relating to trust accounts and overcharging on agreed property management fees.
Consumer Protection began disciplinary action against the agency after it was found, through a qualified audit report, that the company had at various times between February 2014 and January 2016 breached the Real Estate and Business Agents Act by:
• Failing to pay money received into their trust account as soon as practicable;
• Failing to keep full and accurate accounts of all monies received or held by it;
• Failing to record the details of payments received before the end of the next business day;
• Failing to correctly balance the accounts at the end of each month; and
• Receiving payments for property management services which were greater than the amounts agreed in writing.
The tribunal found that Mr Howes had breached the code of conduct for real estate agents and sales representatives by failing to properly supervise the agency, being the person in bona fide control.
Acting commissioner for consumer protection David Hillyard said all WA real estate agencies must comply with every aspect of the law relating to the operation of their trust accounts.
“Real estate agencies can 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 accounting and auditing of trust accounts,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Agents and their employees should be aware of the procedures relating to the handling of bond and rent payments from tenants and make sure there are systems in place to ensure the funds are handled in accordance with the law.”