$8,000 fine for breaking property management laws (Ebony Te Whakaaronga Cheetham)
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A registered real estate sales representative has been fined a total of $8,000 and given a criminal conviction by the Joondalup Magistrates Court for managing a property without an agent’s licence as well as for breaching tenancy laws.
Ebony Te Whakaaronga Cheetham of Clarkson was convicted in her absence on 22 April 2016 and also ordered to pay costs of $700.
In December 2013 Ms Cheetham offered to find a tenant and manage a friend’s property in Clarkson. While Ms Cheetham was registered as a real estate sales representative, she was not the holder of a real estate agent’s licence and triennial certificate which would have given her authority to act as a property manager. She was also not working as a property manager under the authority of a licensed agent.
Despite this, Ms Cheetham rented out the property to a tenant without a proper licence or valid appointment, in breach of the Real Estate and Business Agents Act. She was also convicted and fined for failing to provide a receipt for the security bond and failing to lodge it with the Bond Administrator as required by the Residential Tenancies Act.
In her dealings with the landlord and tenant, Ms Cheetham used a business name that was neither licensed nor registered and the rent and bond were paid directly into her personal bank account. Property management fees, which were not specified in writing, were deducted from the rent payments before being paid to the landlord.
Ms Cheetham was further convicted of failing to comply with a special condition of her registration as a sales representative which required her to complete Compulsory Professional Development units that were outstanding from previous years.
Ms Cheetham was fined:
- $5,000 for holding herself out as a real estate agent without a licence;
- $1,000 for receiving a commission without a licence or valid appointment;
- $500 for failing to comply with a special condition placed on her certificate of registration;
- $1,000 for failing to provide a receipt for a bond; and
- $500 for failing to lodge a security bond.
Magistrate Shackleton said that Ms Cheetham, as a registered sales representative for two years, was aware or should have been aware of her obligations in regard to her property management activities and the fine should act as a significant deterrent.
Acting Commissioner for Consumer Protection David Hillyard said property managers need to be licensed, or work for a licensee, and comply with all relevant laws.
“The licensing regime and laws covering property management activities are in place to protect both the property owner and tenant. Strict rules are set out with regard to contracts, services to be carried out, commissions to be paid and the receiving and disbursement of funds,” Mr Hillyard said.
“Operating as a property manager without a licence, as well as disregarding tenancy laws, strips the landlord and tenant of their rights and protections. The Department takes a dim view of anyone who acts as a property manager without the necessary legal framework in place.
“The case is also a reminder for all licensed real estate salespeople and agents to ensure they maintain the Compulsory Professional Development points required to keep their licences and registrations valid.”
Ms Cheetham no longer holds a certificate of registration as a real estate sales representative.
More information on the obligations of real estate agents, sales representatives and property managers is available on the Consumer Protection website: www.commerce.wa.gov.au/cp/realestate or enquiries can be made by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1300 30 40 54.
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