Supreme Court injunctions against rent to buy property promoters (Susilo)

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The Supreme Court has granted Consumer Protection interim injunctions against promoters of a rent to buy property scheme in WA which prevent them from engaging in alleged misleading and deceptive conduct.

Patricia Mirawati Susilo and Bryan Artawijaya Susilo of Applecross, are required to publish statements on their website – www.sellhouseseasy.com.au - clarifying the nature of their business and clearly outlining the purchasing and rental arrangements for the properties they are advertising for sale under the scheme.

The Court’s decision requires the brother and sister to make the terms of their contracts clearer to consumers in relation to the ownership of the property and the purchasing arrangements between the owner and prospective buyer/tenant. They must also provide purchasers with a notice setting out a payment schedule and timeframe, as well as outlining the consequences should the buyer/tenant not be in a position to purchase the property at the end of the contract period.

Claims in their advertising that a loan from a bank or other financial institution is not required to purchase the homes will need to be qualified with “Bank or other financial institutions aren’t required to assist in all cases”.

The injunctions prevent the promoters from representing that they own or have interests in properties unless they are the owner or have the represented interest. They must also indicate that the sale price and instalment payments being advertised are approximate amounts only.

The promoters must provide both owners and prospective buyers/tenants with a written notice stating the exact nature of the scheme they are proposing, at least seven days before any contracts take effect.

The injunctions are in force until a trial of the action takes place. In addition to alleging that the Susilos are engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct, Consumer Protection also alleges that they are operating as real estate agents without the required licence.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said the injunctions will give greater clarity to those who might be considering this particular scheme.

“The Supreme Court’s decision acknowledges the need for greater clarity about these complex rental and purchase arrangements and the need for both parties to know their rights and financial obligations before signing any contracts,” Ms Driscoll said.

“We would urge anyone who is contemplating a rent to buy property proposal to seek legal and financial advice before committing to a contract, as there are many aspects of these schemes that require careful consideration.”

“We would strongly recommend that, if buyers or sellers of WA properties decide to deal with an intermediary, they only deal with licensed real estate agents. This gives much greater protection as there are laws that are designed to uphold consumer rights and safeguard their financial interests.”

Anyone who needs further information and advice about rent to buy property schemes, are urged to contact Consumer Protection on 1300 30 40 54 or consumer@commerce.wa.gov.au .

END OF RELEASE

(Consumer Protection is a division of the Department of Commerce)

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Media Contact:
Alan Hynd  9282 0961 or 0429-078791  alan.hynd@commerce.wa.gov.au

Consumer Protection
Media release
10 Jun 2013

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