Sales rep fined over non-habitable property sale
- Albany real estate sales representative convicted of misleading a property buyer
- Told buyer she could move into a unit declared non-habitable
- Buyers urged to make own enquiries if in doubt about council approvals
Wrongly telling a homebuyer she could live in a dwelling that had been deemed ‘non-habitable’ by local government authorities has seen a former real estate sales representative convicted and penalised nearly $5,300 following action by Consumer Protection.
Jack Alexander Lusty was fined $4,000 and ordered to pay $1,287 in costs after pleading guilty in the Perth Magistrates Court to making a false or misleading representation about the use of land, in breach of the Australian Consumer Law.
The action related to the sale of a property on Bon Accord Road, Lower King, that contained a mudbrick unit classed by the City of Albany as a “class 10A non-habitable structure.”
During an inspection of the property in May 2021, the buyer asked Mr Lusty, a sales representative of First National Albany Real Estate, if the mudbrick unit could be lived in, to which he said “yes” and that it was a “liveable shed.”
These comments were made despite Mr Lusty being informed by the City of Albany several months prior that the unit did not have council approval for human habitation.
The buyer only learned the truth following settlement when she was approached by a council employee while a friend was moving furniture into the unit.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said agents and sales representatives had a duty to be honest about a property during the sales process by disclosing all the known material facts to buyers, including occupancy and habitation restrictions.
“Every buyer has the right to know the truth about a property, so they can make informed decisions about whether to go ahead with what could likely be one of the biggest investment decisions of their lives,” Ms Blake said.
“Had the buyer in this case known the mudbrick unit was uninhabitable, she would have either offered a lower amount or not made an offer at all given the amount of work needed to get this property over the line with council.
“This type of offending not only breaches the Australian Consumer Law, it erodes public confidence in the real estate industry.
“Consumer Protection will not hesitate to take action against other agents or sales reps found to be making false and misleading representations about properties available for sale on their books.”
“Buyers are also encouraged to make enquiries with the local authorities to confirm approvals are in place if there is any doubt.”
More information on the obligations of real estate agents and sales representatives is available on the Consumer Protection website at 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: Frankie Pennington, (08) 6552 9410 / 0429 078 791