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A Shenton Park property manager has been reprimanded and fined $13,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal for making unauthorised withdrawals from a real estate agency’s trust account.
Rhonda Denise Reid, who was a Director of the Nedlands agency, also failed to act fairly and honestly by making 13 unauthorised withdrawals totalling $36,290 between May 2014 and June 2016 without the knowledge of the agency’s licensee. Ms Reid’s registration had already expired so an order for her licence to be disqualified could not also be made.
The money was transferred to the agency’s general operating account from the agency’s trust account which was used for the management of 19 rental properties throughout the Perth metropolitan area. Ms Reid’s actions were in breach of the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and Code of Conduct.
In her defence, Ms Reid stated that it was her first instance of misconduct; she had repaid the money to the property owners and did not receive any direct financial gain from her misconduct.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said all property managers and real estate agents had an obligation to follow the strict rules that apply to the handling of trust account funds.
“Using trust account funds for other purposes such as paying for the operating expenses of the agency is a serious case of misconduct and a serious breach of the law,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Withdrawals from the trust account must be authorised by the person for whom the money is being held, whether that be the property owner, buyer or tenant. Unauthorised withdrawals will always be identified through our regular audits and offenders will face disciplinary action or prosecution.”
More information on the obligations of real estate agents and sales representatives is available on the Consumer Protection website: www.consumerprotection.wa.gov.au or enquiries can be made by email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / email@example.com