Reprimand and fine for real estate agency that shut out buyers (M Property Pty Ltd, part of The Match Group)
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A Claremont-based real estate agency has been reprimanded, fined $5,000 and must pay $1,000 to cover the costs of disciplinary action by Consumer Protection due to apartment-buyers being kept in the dark about balcony shutters.
During mediation at the State Administrative Tribunal, M Property Pty Ltd agreed there had been two breaches of the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and Code of Conduct for Agents and Sales Representatives. Both breaches related to a sales representative’s failure to disclose information to buyers during the sales of apartments in a North Coogee development called ‘the Helm’.
- In February 2013 an architect sent a request to the City of Cockburn on behalf of ‘the Helm’ development owner to seek a reduction in the number of shutters on the south side of the apartment building because of cost and impact on light. In May 2013 the City of Cockburn approved the shutter reduction in principle. At that point M Property was aware there would be a change to the number of shutters.
- In July 2013, a couple presenting an offer to purchase an apartment at ‘the Helm’ asked an M Property sales representative if the balcony would be enclosed and were told it would be. In January 2015 during the final inspection of the completed apartment the couple discovered they had not received a full set of shutters. They had never been told about the reduction of the shutters.
- In November 2013 a person told the M Property sales representative he was looking to buy an apartment with a balcony that was protected from the elements and was taken to ‘the Helm’. The prospective buyer was told there would be moveable shutters to enclose the balcony. A couple of days later he asked again about whether there would be a full set of shutters and was told it would not be a problem. During inspection of the completed apartment in January 2015 he discovered that the balcony was not fully enclosed by shutters.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said the failure to shed light on changes to the balcony shutter plans was totally unacceptable.
“Buying an apartment is one of the biggest purchases a consumer will make and when it’s a yet-to-be-completed development, a lot of trust is placed in the agent selling off-the-plan or from a display home.
“WA’s real estate industry licensing regime exists to maintain high standards and involves compulsory professional development training for agents and sales representatives. This includes fully understanding the product they are selling. To mislead buyers by not disclosing vital information won’t be tolerated by Consumer Protection, as the regulator.”
Information about WA’s property industry laws can be found on the Consumer Protection website www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp. Property-buyers who face problems with their purchase can call 1300 30 40 54 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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- M Property is part of The Match Group, which provides investment, development, construction and real estate services.
- The owner of the Helm development is Port Coogee Management and the builder was M Construction (WA) Pty Ltd.
- The final orders were made by the State Administrative Tribunal following mediation on 21 February 2017 to settle the matter.
Media contact (Consumer Protection)
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