Over­charges not de­lib­er­ate

Pilbara News - - News -

A Kar­ratha real es­tate agency has been rep­ri­manded and fined $5000 by the State Ad­min­is­tra­tive Tri­bunal for over­charg­ing clients for prop­erty in­spec­tion and man­age­ment fees.

Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion took dis­ci­plinary ac­tion against Seav­ille Hold­ings Pty Ltd, trad­ing as First Na­tional Real Es­tate Kar­ratha for a breach of the Code of Con­duct for Agents and Sales Rep­re­sen­ta­tives 2011.

How­ever, Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion said they ac­cepted the over­charges were the re­sult of ad­min­is­tra­tive er­rors and were not de­lib­er­ate.

The firm was found to have charged the own­ers of four prop­er­ties more than what was con­tracted for prop­erty in­spec­tion fees be­tween De­cem­ber 2011 and March 2014. The agency had also over­charged four other prop­erty own­ers for man­age­ment fees be­tween Novem­ber 2011 and March 2015.

The to­tal over­charg­ing in th­ese eight in­stances was in ex­cess of $5500.

Fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the depart­ment, the agency un­der­took a re­view of all its own­ers’ files and has re­funded clients more than $19,000 that had been over­charged.

Act­ing Com­mis­sioner for Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion David Hill­yard said it was im­per­a­tive that real es­tate agents only charged fees that were agreed to un­der their prop­erty man­age­ment con­tracts.

“With proper checks and bal­ances in place, ac­count­ing er­rors should not oc­cur in the man­age­ment of client’s ac­counts, es­pe­cially over such a long pe­riod of time,” he said.

“Prop­erty own­ers should check their state­ments care­fully and en­sure that the fees be­ing charged are in ac­cor­dance with their agree­ment.

“If not, take the mat­ter up with the agency and con­tact Con­sumer Pro­tec­tion if the prob­lem is not rec­ti­fied im­me­di­ately.”

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