Real estate agent fined over trust account breaches
A Noranda real estate agent has been fined $800 and ordered to pay costs of $900 by the Perth Magistrates Court for making unauthorised withdrawals from the agency’s trust account and failing to have the account audited.
The agent, who was granted a spent conviction order, made two unauthorised withdrawals from the trust account – $450 in October 2016 and $1,350 in November 2016 – to pay a tradesperson for repairs on a South Perth rental property that were not completed.
The agent further breached the Real Estate and Business Agents Act by not having the trust account audited for the 2016 calendar year and within three months of the surrendering of her triennial certificate in March 2017.
The agent was fined $200 on each of the four offences and no longer works in the real estate industry. Magistrate Campione acknowledged that the breaches were due to inadvertence rather than dishonesty which reduced the seriousness of the offences.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said real estate agents must strictly adhere to the laws surrounding the operation of their trust accounts.
“These trust accounts can often hold large sums of money on behalf of the agent’s clients so the laws are designed to protect those funds and prevent any possible misappropriation,” Mr Hillyard said.
“All withdrawals from the trust account must be authorised by the person for whom the money is being held. Annual audited accounts must be submitted to Consumer Protection for review so that any unauthorised withdrawals can be identified and action taken if any offences are discovered.”
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 email@example.com or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
Media Contact: Alan Hynd, (08) 6552 9248 / 0429 078 791 / firstname.lastname@example.org