- Asset Realty Pty Ltd to pay over $22,000
- 18 charges laid
- Company already fined in Western Australia last year
Real estate agency Asset Realty Pty Ltd has been fined $10,000 and ordered to pay consumers $12,360 after charging for unwanted and unauthorised services.
Last week, the property management company pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court to charges laid by Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading.
In total there were 18 charges against Asset Realty Pty Ltd for breaches of the Property Occupations Act 2014 and the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014.
The court found the company was never properly appointed to manage one property but had deducted fees and expenses for managing it for almost 10 years.
Two clients were charged $66 a year for debt management and collection services they had opted not to subscribe to.
Also, two owners were charged over $1,300 for new smoke alarms at their rental properties without authorisation.
Magistrate Louisa Pink considered many factors when sentencing, including the strict liability offences, administrative failures, the early guilty plea, and the selling of the company’s rent roll.
Queensland Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Shannon Fentiman, said the case is a reminder for real estate agents to check they have been correctly appointed and all their information is updated prior to charging clients.
“Real estate professionals hold a position of trust and work with large sums of other people’s money, so it is essential they are scrupulous in their actions at all times,” she said.
The legal outcome comes after Asset Realty Pty Ltd was fined $80,000 in Western Australia in February 2020 after failing to lodge tenancy bonds on time and keeping records with false dates.
Accepting security bonds totalling $10,480 from eight tenants between March and December 2017, the company failed to lodge them with the Bond Administrator within the required timeframe.
With Asset Realty Pty Ltd having a registered place of business in Welshpool at the time, the tenants lived in Meadow Springs, Secret Harbour, Singleton, Baldivis, Ellenbrook and Alkimos.
The Mandurah Magistrates Court also ordered the company’s Directors in Queensland to pay $536.50 in legal costs.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection, at the time Lanie Chopping, said it was one of the highest fines ever imposed in such a case brought before the Courts.
“Failing to lodge bonds on time is serious enough, but for a company to then have false entries in their trust account records just makes a bad situation worse,” she said.