Agency fined over improper property maintenance recommendations (Anna-Marie Thornton / Harcourts Prestige Real Estate)

WA Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety
  • Agency fined $6,000 and Director fined $4,000 for code of conduct violations
  • Agency Director was also Director of a recommended maintenance company
  • Agents reminded to always act in the best interests of their clients

A Canning Vale real estate agency has been fined by the State Administrative Tribunal for failing to act in the best interests of five of its clients in relation to property maintenance recommendations and arrangements.

Following disciplinary action by Consumer Protection, Prestige One Pty Ltd, trading as Harcourts Prestige Real Estate, was reprimanded and fined $6,000 for breaching the Real Estate and Business Agents Act and the Code of Conduct. The agency’s sole Director and person in bone fide control Anna-Marie Thornton was reprimanded and fined $4,000 for failing to exercise due care, diligence and skill in her supervision of the agency in relation to the breach.

Between around May 2019 and April 2021, the agency recommended to the five property owners, who were clients, that they use the services of Prestige Maintenance Perth for repairs and maintenance. Ms Thornton was the sole Director of Prestige Two Pty Ltd which traded as Prestige Maintenance Perth. The business has since ceased trading.

Prestige Maintenance Perth used third-party contractors to perform the repair and maintenance services. Invoices presented to the property owners represented mark-ups of between 17 and 70 per cent on top of the contractors’ original price. The invoices were paid from trust monies held in the names of the owners.

The five properties involved were located in Treeby, Piara Waters, Gosnells, Harrisdale and Wattle Grove.

Commissioner for Consumer Protection Trish Blake said the code of conduct requires real estate agents to always act in good faith and in the best interests of their clients.

“Agents need to be mindful of their obligations under the code of conduct and make certain the interests of their clients come first at all times,” Ms Blake said.

“Clients need to receive value for money from any service provider engaged on their behalf. In this case the agents’ use of a company in which Ms Thornton was involved did not provide value for money as Prestige Maintenance did not do anything that the agent could not do itself.”

/Public Release. View in full here.