Reprimand and fine over trust account breaches (Urban WA Real Estate / Robyn Horsman)

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ConsumerLicence holdersProperty industry

A Wanneroo real estate agency and its licensee have been reprimanded and fined a total of $3,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) over errors in accounting for the agency’s trust account.

Urban WA Real Estate Pty Ltd and licence holder Robyn Angela Horsman were fined $1,500 each on 10 April 2015 and were ordered to pay total costs of $750.

Consumer Protection took disciplinary action after an audit found the agency failed to comply with the Real Estate and Business Agents Act with regard to the operation of its trust account.

The company admitted that it failed to keep full and accurate trust account records and failed to exercise due skill, care and diligence in the maintenance of the agency’s trust account in the 2012 and 2013 audit years. Ms Horsman admitted that she failed to properly supervise the internal procedures relating to the operation of the trust account during that period.

The SAT acknowledged that there was no loss incurred by members of the public and the breaches were not the result of dishonest conduct.

Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection Gary Newcombe said the Department will take action against real estate agencies that breach the laws relating to the operation of their trust accounts.

“Agents and property managers are often handling large amounts of money on behalf of their clients and tenants, so it’s imperative that they comply fully  with the law to ensure the security and accountability of the funds,” Mr Newcombe said.

“Licensees and property managers should properly supervise their employees and have sound accounting practices in place to facilitate the handling of the funds so they abide by the strict rules regarding trust accounts.

“Regular auditing of these trust accounts will uncover any breaches of these laws, so compliance is essential and those found to have failed to comply may face prosecution and have their reputations tarnished in the marketplace.”

More information on the obligations of real estate agents and sales representatives is available on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/realestate or enquiries can be made by email: consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.

END OF RELEASE

Media contact (Consumer Protection)

Consumer Protection
Media release
01 May 2015

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