A property management company has been fined $10,000 and ordered to pay compensation of $12,360 to consumers who were out of pocket after being charged for services they didn’t want and which they hadn’t authorised.
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice Shannon Fentiman said Asset Realty Pty Ltd (previously Your Future Property Management) pleaded guilty in the Southport Magistrates Court on 13 September 2021 to charges laid by the Office of Fair Trading.
“Queenslanders shouldn’t be charged for services they don’t sign up for,” Minister Fentiman said.
“This case is a timely reminder for real estate agents to check they have been correctly appointed and all their paperwork is up to date before they charge fees for their services.
“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.
“The OFT will continue to investigate and take action against any real estate agent who is not doing the right thing by their clients.”
The court heard that the company was never properly appointed to manage one property but had deducted fees and expenses for managing the property for almost 10 years. They also charged two clients $66 a year for a debt management and collection service that they had expressly opted not to subscribe to.
Additionally, Asset Realty Pty Ltd charged two owners over $1,300 for the supply and installation of new smoke alarms at their rental properties without authorisation.
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.
This court outcome comes after the corporation was fined $80,000 in Western Australia in February 2020, for failing to lodge tenancy bonds on time and keeping records that had false dates.
In sentencing, Magistrate Louisa Pink took into account a number of factors including that these were strict liability offences and administrative failures, the company’s early guilty plea, and that the company had sold its rent roll.
Real estate salespeople, agents and consumers may report suspected misconduct to the OFT at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 74 68.
A free search is available on the OFT’s website to check whether an agent is licensed.