A property manager in Queensland has been ordered to pay more than $4,400 and has been disqualified from working in the industry for five years following an Office of Fair Trading investigation.
Rachel Ireland, a former PM at a Carindale real estate agency, plead guilty to misappropriating trust money and was disqualified from working in the real estate industry for five years, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $3,416.54 in restitution in Wynnum Magistrates Court last Friday.
The court ordered the fine and restitution to be paid within two months of the sentencing.
Ms Ireland was investigated by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) after a complaint was received from her employer regarding the misappropriation.
The court heard that Ms Ireland rented a property through the agency on nine occasions between December 2015 and March 2016, manipulated rent payments of other tenants to appear as if she had paid the bond, rent and gardening services on her rented property.
The agency ended up repaying the shortfall, ensuring the tenants were not left out of pocket.
The court noted during the sentencing that Ms Ireland’s behaviour caused personal stress on the agency’s tenants, who had paid rent in good faith.
“This behaviour will not be tolerated and the outcome on Friday shows real estate agents they are not above the law,” Office of Fair Trading executive director, Brian Bauer, said.
“They must act honestly and professionally, ensuring money provided to them is held in trust. The OFT will continue to prosecute agents who don’t meet their legal obligations,” Mr Bauer said.
He said he is hopeful the outcome of the case will send a strong message to other real estate professionals, and he urged anyone who has knowledge of misappropriation of funds to contact the OFT.