A Gold Coast real estate agency has been given a hefty fine after it pleaded guilty to holding onto more than $25,000 of a property owner’s rental income.
Curran Prestige Gold Coast was fined $20,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court after charges were brought by the Office of Fair Trading for wrongfully converting trust money.
The court heard the OFT began investigating Curran Prestige Gold Coast in August 2017 after receiving a complaint from a property owner who had not received his rental income.
The OFT investigation identified that between 28 May 2017 and 16 November 2017, the agency failed to disburse $25,470 rent money to the rightful owners. The agency also retained $1,844.19 in rewards, expenses and commissions that it was not authorised to receive.
In total, 30 occasions of wrongful conversions of consumers’ trust money were identified.
The former principal licensee of Curran Prestige Gold Coast pleaded guilty to four charges of wrongfully converting or falsely accounting for trust money and two other breaches of the Property Occupations Act 2014, as well as five breaches of the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014.
Magistrate Howden said in sentencing that the offences were serious as the defendant occupied a position of trust and the consumers had been severely disadvantaged by his misappropriation of their rent money.
Fair Trading acting executive director Craig Turner said that agents who did not abide by the law had no place in the property industry.
“The OFT will take action against real estate agents who put consumers at financial risk by disregarding their legal obligations,” he said.