Port Hedland real estate agency reprimanded

Synarah MurphyNorth West Telegraph
Consumer Protection Senior Regional Officer Mark Ing.
Camera IconConsumer Protection Senior Regional Officer Mark Ing. Credit: Tori O'Connor

A Pilbara real estate agency has been hit with a $4000 fine after property management misconduct.

Property Shop Network was reprimanded and fined $3000 by the State Administrative Tribunal in relation to property management services and making unauthorised withdrawals from its trust account.

The Port Hedland company mistakenly three such withdrawals, totalling $644.70 from its trust account for property management fees where the property owners were entitled to receive that money.

PS director James Henneberry was also made to pay a fine of up to $1,000 for breaching the Acts and Codes of Conduct.

The agency also mistakenly withdrew small amounts from its trust account in 2017, between April and June, after the agency had ceased to act for the property owners.

The property owners have been reimbursed a higher amount than they had lost.

More than three breaches were also noticed in the findings, including failing to promptly notify the property owners that a tenant had abandoned the property and failing to obtain orders against the tenant for unpaid rent and release of the security bond.

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,” he said.

“All withdrawals from the trust account must be correct in all aspects and strictly be for the express purpose of the real estate transaction or be authorised by the person for whom the money is being held.

“Any misconduct concerning trust monies can undermine public confidence in the real estate industry.

“It is also imperative that agents comply with laws designed to protect the interests of owners and tenants when managing properties.”

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