A Perth property manager has been found to be in breach of the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and fined for serious trust account offences.
Rhonda Denise Reid, who was a director of the Nedlands agency in Shenton Park, has been reprimanded and fined $13,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal in WA for making unauthorised withdrawals from a real estate agency’s trust account.
Ms Reid was found to have failed to act fairly and honestly by making 13 unauthorised withdrawals totalling $36,290 between May 2014 and June 2016 without the knowledge of the agency’s licensee.
Ms Reid’s registration had already expired, so an order for her licence to be revoked could not also be made.
The money was transferred to the agency’s general operating account from the agency’s trust account, which was used for the management of 19 rental properties throughout the Perth metropolitan area.
Ms Reid’s actions were in breach of both the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and Code of Conduct.
In her defence, Ms Reid stated that it was her first instance of misconduct; she had repaid the money to the property owners and did not receive any direct financial gain from her misconduct.
Commissioner for consumer protection David Hillyard said that all property managers and real estate agents had an obligation to follow the strict rules that apply to the handling of trust account funds.
“Using trust account funds for other purposes such as paying for the operating expenses of the agency is a serious case of misconduct and a serious breach of the law,” the commissioner said.
“Withdrawals from the trust account must be authorised by the person for whom the money is being held, whether that be the property owner, buyer or tenant. Unauthorised withdrawals will always be identified through our regular audits and offenders will face disciplinary action or prosecution.”