Overcharges not deliberate
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.”