The former principal licensee of a real estate agency has been fined $20,000 after pleading guilty in court to withholding rent monies owed to property owner clients.
Queensland’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched an investigation into the dealings of the then licensee of Curran Prestige Gold Coast, who an OFT spokesperson identified as Todd Daniel Curran, following a complaint from a landlord that the agency had failed to disburse his rental income.
According to the OFT, that investigation uncovered 30 separate instances where trust money was “wrongfully converted” away from clients, between 28 May and 16 November in 2017.
In total, four landlords were collectively deprived of $25,470 in rental income. The agency was also found to have retained a further $1,844.19 in “rewards, expenses and commissions” to which it was not entitled.
The impacted clients have not been repaid the funds, a spokesperson for the OFT confirmed.
In a statement, the OFT said that the unnamed principal licensee had pleaded guilty in Southport Magistrates Court on 11 February 2019 to four charges of wrongfully converting or falsely accounting for trust money, in addition to two breaches of the Property Occupations Act 2014 and five breaches of the Agents Financial Administration Act 2014.
It noted that the judge found the offences were serious and had severely disadvantaged clients who had trusted the agency to act on their behalf in managing their properties and rent collection.
“The OFT will take action against real estate agents who put consumers at financial risk by disregarding their legal obligations,” said OFT acting executive director Craig Turner.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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