Elizabeth Anne Provan, director and former principal licensee of Dicky Beach Real Estate Pty Ltd, was found guilty of wrongfully converting trust money and acting as unlicensed property agent after charges were brought by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for breaching the Property Occupations Act 2014.
Ms Provan, who did not appear at the Caloundra Magistrates Court, was fined $25,000 after converting rent money for her own use and asking tenants to place rent money into her own personal account, which totaled $46,793, from January to July 2017. She was also banned for 10 years.
Ms Provan’s breach of trust, lack of remorse and failure to cooperate with the OFT investigation all contributed to her sentencing, a statement read.
Brian Bauer, Fair Trading executive director, said agents who do not follow the law have no place in the property industry.
“The OFT will take action against real estate agents who put consumers at financial risk by disregarding their legal obligations,” Mr Bauer said.
What if it happens to me?
If an investor finds themselves in the hands of a dodgy property manager, Peter Koulizos, chairman of the Property Investment Professionals of Australia, said they should consult the organisation which the property manager is a part of, if any, as well as the appropriate Office of Fair Trading.
“Now they call them different things in different states, but generally, real estate comes under the umbrella under the Office of Fair Trading, so you should contact them,” he said to Nest Egg's sister site, Smart Property Investment.
However, before an investor even finds themselves in such a situation, they should carefully look at their rental statements every month and bring up any discrepancies.
Going back even further, they should also make sure to go through the relevant checks to ensure the property manager is worth their time and money.
“It might be word of mouth, it might be on the net to see what other people say about them, the member of their relevant organisations,” Mr Koulizos said.
“There's no guarantee that you're going to get somebody that doesn't rip you off, but at least you minimise the chances if ... other people say that they're good, and you keep an eye on them and they're a member of the appropriate association.”