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Letting agent banned for life

Published: 17 March 2007.

A far north Queensland accommodation manager is the first Queensland restricted letting agent to be banned for life. Fair Trading Minister Margaret Keech said Amanda Byrne was today permanently disqualified by the Commercial and Consumer Tribunal and ordered to pay a total of $16,500 in fines and costs. She had pleaded guilty to 17 disciplinary charges laid by the Office of Fair Trading following a lengthy investigation of her conduct as an agent at two adjoining Palm Cove building complexes, Azure Waters and Coral Horizons Apartments.

"Byrne demonstrated a reckless disregard for the statutory obligations of a restricted letting agent and blatant contempt for the law," Mrs Keech said.

"The Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 (PAMD Act) is in place to ensure there is public confidence in the industry and Byrne's actions have threatened consumer confidence in the real estate industry in the Cairns region.

"Byrne conducted work unlicensed, borrowed a second licence, failed to lodge audit reports on time, and underpaid unit owners.

"Under the PAMD Act a restricted letting agent must reside at the building complex, and for seven months Byrne resided away from the Azure Waters complex.

"She pleaded guilty to all 17 charges and is the first restricted letting agent to be banned for life from holding a licence.

"The Tribunal also ordered her to pay a $7500 fine and $9000 in costs."

The Tribunal heard Byrne:

• acted for five months as an unlicensed restricted letting agent after her licence was cancelled for not lodging an audit report;
• deposited monies from clients into her general account rather than the trust account:

as at 30 June 2002 the trust account should have contained $102,124.26 more than was in the account;

as at 30 June 2003 the trust account should have contained $70,415.81 more than was in the account;

• failed to pay her clients trust monies they were entitled to within the 42 day time period under the PAMD Act;
• failed to provide disbursement statements to her clients;
• for two years and three months acted as unlicensed restricted letting agent for the Coral Horizons Apartment complex;
• for two years and three months borrowed the licence applicable to Coral Horizons Apartment complex to manage and control letting;
• from July 2001 until April 2003 on 31 occasions underpaid nine owners within the complex;
• failed to lodge audit reports months by due date under the PAMD Act;
• failed on occasions to keep a register of trust account receipt forms, issue receipts immediately and include the required details on the receipt;
• failed to reconcile the books of the account for the period 1 July 2001 to 30 June 2002; and
• performed services for clients when not appointed in writing.

"Byrnes' actions breached 13 sections of the PAMD Act and corresponding Regulation 2001 and caused financial detriment to many of her clients," Mrs Keech said.

"A large number of her clients have made claims for compensation under the PAMD Claim Fund.

"The Tribunal's decision against Byrne puts all agents on notice - this type of irresponsible conduct will not be tolerated," she said.

Media contacts: David Smith 3225 1005 / 0409 496 534 or Belinda Carroll 3224 2007


Reply from: Mr N.Harbour

04 March 2008

Just click here to upload your profile portrait now - its easy!

[name widthheld] was the tenant and the manager trading as[businessname withheld] Realtors from my rental property inUpper Coomera. :

After my rent was 3 weeks late (bearing in mind she is /was the owner of[withheld] Realtors and the manager and tenant of my property) I phoned and e-mailed to ask why and what is going on, The answer was by e-mail Thanks but why was it late oversight/human error I dont do mid/end month anymore!We had to swap money from everywhere so we didn't - sorry Get any charges etc Hopefully we didn't of course, same thing just happened to me also with my tenant...I understand And that was it An oversight was the answer. By phone This prompted me to phone the RTA a few months ago to check on the bond etc. It was then I was told the bonds and business etc. had been transferred / sold to another agent apart from mine. She did mention changes and she might get her own place or merge. It was then alarm bells started to ring I had to send faxes of the rates bill and my signature to make sure she could not get the bond without my permission. The fact I got the form 16 in the post and writing this letter proved my suspicions to be right. On breaking the lease an exit inspection was carried out to which carpet stains and carpet damage was found. I told her by phone and e-mail and the form 14A and by my new mangers also phoned and e-mailed her regarding this.[withheld] said she would sort if out as soon as, and get right on it which was weeks ago.

[withheld]Realty and I have tried to get in touch with[withheld] via phone and e-mail with no response at all. Also my new tenant has reported that the solar hot water and the ducted air con does not work so these also are being looked into to see if any damage has occurred. We have had no response to our e-mails and phone messages on both issues.

Is their a governing body I can report this conduct to. As someone who owns, managers, and sells property her code of conduct is questionable to say the least and needs to be reported before (if not already) someone else gets caught out. Luckily I secured the bond before it was too late. She left on Saturday February 2nd 2008 and the inspection was done on that day she also in her exit form 14A mentions the carpet damage After 3 weeks of no joy or contact a get a form from the RTA saying she is trying to get the bond This again full knowing she hasnt put the carpets right and made no contact of any kind to me or the new mangers

So on the advice of new mangers as they or my self could get know reply we got the carpets put right at a cost off $88.00 Work orders put in 1 day work carried out the next. Just an insight how they could and should have been done

Then on the 27th February 2008[withheld] phoned to see why I blocking the bond return She said her carpet guy had a death then forgot the forgot again. When I said after she paid me the $88.00 or agreed to take if off the bond then I would release the bond her answer was you got no chance of that and it will cost more than that in the small claims court as I got a carpet guy out etc etc. The fact he never made contact with me her of the new mangers shows her Management oversight again

Also we had to have the smoke alarms checked for the new tenant all though we had had it done early in the year .. When I phoned them to get it done again they hadnt been paid for the first time Another oversight I have a lot of e-mails backing and documenting most of these as you see not the ideal owner-manager and real-estate person who would like to meet I am of the belief she is still working in this industry which prompted me to ask for a governing body to report her to

Any help would be appreciated

Regards

N.Harbour


Reply from: Nick

04 March 2008

Just click here to upload your profile portrait now - its easy!

Mr Harbour, thanks for your contribution, as a land-lord myself I've been through similar situations and I can understand your frustration when things like this happen.For your ownprotection though,please refrain from posting business and individual names publicly about this. Even if you feel you're in the right. You can leave yourself, and us, wide-open for defamation suits. I've therefore removed all such details from your post, prior to making it live, to protect yourself, and us.

Please note that small claims court is not expensive - that's the whole point. If you lodge yourbond disputewith Small Claims Court beforethe tenantdoes, it will be free for you to pursue her for the portion of your bond in dispute. If she registers the bond dispute with small claims court before you do, it will cost you a small registration fee (about $70 last time I had to do this - which was a few years ago) to pursue her. So get onto this right away.

You might want to also get in touch with the Office of Fair Trading for their advice over this. As a licensed letting agent, it is possible her actions are viewed as misconduct and in breech of her letting agent's license. OFT might independently investigate the situation - they take misconduct of licensed agents very seriously, as demonstrated above. This may not help you directly but it will at least protect other land lords in the future.

Lastly, I'm not a lawyer, so you should under no circumstances take my opinions as a substitute for professional legal advice. You might want to have a quick chat to a solicitor about your issue. Although legal representation by a solicitor is not permitted in small-claims you can still get professional advice from a solicitor about exactly where you stand, which may save you much time, hassle and money in the long run. To find excellent solicitors that specialise in property management law,click here.

Please keep us posted on how you go here - good luck.



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