Mandurah real estate agent fined after failing to cooperate with auditor

Photo: Shutterstock.
Photo: Shutterstock.

A Mandurah real estate agent has been ordered to pay more than $1000 after failing to cooperate with requests from an auditor.

Gregory James O'Farrell pleaded guilty in the Mandurah Magistrates Court on Friday.

A Consumer Protection spokesman said the former O'Farrell Property Group Pty Ltd director did not renew the company's triennial certificate and the business ceased to operate in June 2017.

He said the termination audit of the agency's accounts was required to be submitted to Consumer Protection in order to comply with the Real Estate and Business Agents Act.

The spokesman said O'Farrell, who now operates Seachange Realty in Mandurah, appointed an auditor to carry out the work in March 2018.

The auditor had the added task of completing the 2016 audit after he became aware it was incomplete.

The auditor was unable to properly complete either audit as O'Farrell failed to provide all the information and documents that were requested.

Magistrate Anne Longden ordered O'Farrell to pay a $500 fine and $553.90 costs.

Consumer Protection commissioner David Hillyard said O'Farrell was obliged to provide the information as the sole director and supervisor.

"Even if a real estate agent shuts up shop, they are obliged to ensure all their yearly audits are up to date and provide whatever information or documents that are required to complete those audits," he said.

"By failing to do so, O'Farrell has made it difficult for the Department to determine whether the funds being held in trust for clients were properly managed and the money properly dispersed when the agency closed down."

"The annual audits are important safeguards for consumers so agents need to ensure that the reports are submitted within the required time so they can be checked for compliance."

More information on the obligations of real estate agents and sales representatives is available on the Consumer Protection website or enquiries can be made by email consumer@dmirs.wa.gov.au or by calling 1300 30 40 54.