A Rockingham real estate agency and its licensee have been fined a total of $23,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for failing to lodge tenancy bonds with the Bond Administrator on time as well as several trust account violations.
Graeme Garwood and Sand Dollar (WA) Pty Ltd, trading as Harcourts Rockingham, were both reprimanded with the agency fined $15,000 and Mr Garwood $8,000 for breaching the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and Code of Conduct by failing to exercise due care, diligence and skill.
On two occasions the agency failed to keep full and accurate records of money deposited into its trust account.
On five occasions it failed to enter the particulars of all amounts received into its trust account within one business day of receipt and, on nine occasions, failed to lodge tenancy bonds with the Bond Administrator within 14 days of receipt.
The offences occurred from November 2020 to August 2021 and related to the management of Rockingham, Waikiki, Warnbro and Shoalwater rental properties.
Mr Garwood and the agency told the SAT that the staff members responsible for the breaches were no longer employed at the agency and processes have been put in place to ensure the breaches do not occur again.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said those in charge of real estate agencies need to exercise adequate supervision to ensure compliance with the law.
“While licensees can sometimes blame staff for any failings, ultimately the responsibility for ensuring the agency complies with the law lies solely with the person in bona fide control,” Mr Newcombe said.
“These failings and the subsequent disciplinary action can result in an expensive lesson for agents, as has happened in this case. Also there is a risk that the agency’s reputation and standing in the community is tarnished and their licence may be put in jeopardy.
“Our advice to agents is make sure there are processes and procedures in place to check that trust account entries are accurate and bond lodgements are made within the 14 day time limit allowed.”
More information on the obligations of real estate agents, sales representatives and property managers is available on the Consumer Protection website or enquiries can be made by email email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54