Legal action against rent to buy property promoters (Susilo)
Consumer Protection has lodged a Supreme Court Writ seeking an injunction against promoters of a rent to buy property scheme in WA.
In the legal action, Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll will allege that Patricia Mirawati Susilo and Bryan Artawijaya Susilo of Applecross, have engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The Commissioner further alleges that they breached the Real Estate and Business Agents Act by acting as unlicensed real estate agents or giving people they were dealing with the impression that they were licensed real estate agents..
The Commissioner said an investigation into the activities of the brother and sister team indicates misleading statements have been made in advertisements for several properties and about the nature of Ms Susilo's interest in the properties.
"The alleged misleading statements in advertisements relate to her ownership of the properties and to the amount of weekly payments which don't match the payments the proposed tenant/buyer was requested to pay. There is also no indication of the upfront option fee or the final price that is payable," Ms Driscoll alleges.
"I am particularly concerned that, in the cases where the tenant/buyers do not have sufficient resources to pay the upfront option fee, Ms Susilo has taken wedding rings and various family collectables as part of the payment for the deposit. These included a Real Madrid jersey signed by David Beckham and a Franklin Mint edition Monopoly board. In another instance, Ms Susilo brokered the sale of a tenant/buyer's vehicle to raise the required deposit funds.
"The proceeds from the transactions are deposited into a bank account of a real estate agent in the eastern states and then transferred to Ms Susilo's personal bank accounts in WA. I am concerned that the funds do not go into a WA trust account and there is no separate account where money is stored for future deposits in accordance with the ‘Option to Buy' agreements.
"Consumer Protection would urge anyone who is considering a rent to buy property proposal to seek further legal and financial advice before committing to a rent to buy contract as there are many reasons to be concerned about the legality of some of these schemes.
"We would strongly recommend that consumers only deal with licensed real estate agents in regard to purchasing property in WA. This gives much greater protection as there are laws that are designed to uphold consumer rights and safeguard their financial interests."
In August 2011, the Commissioner for Consumer Protection warned consumers about rent to buy property promoters No Loan Home Pty Ltd (trading as Perth's Easyhomes WA), its sole Director Filip (Fil) Butkovic and employee Nikola (Nik) Butkovic who were operating a different type of rent to buy scheme. In May 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that scheme was illegal because the promoters were not licensed real estate agents. The Court also ruled that the company had misled clients regarding the future value of the property, the potential equity that they are able to build up over a four to five year period and their ability to obtain finance at the end of this period.
Anyone who has had dealings with the Susilos, or any other consumer concerned about rent to buy property schemes, are urged to contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
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(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)
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Media Contact: Alan Hynd
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