REAA promises more legal action, agents in gun too

Wednesday 25 January 2012

Property finders - and the real estate agents that work with them - are to be targeted over the coming year for legal action by the Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA).

By The Landlord

REAA legal counsel Martin Sawyer said the Authority was set to take a harder stance on any unlicensed individuals involved in real estate transactions after the appeal ruling in the Dorien Forster case.

Forster and her company Home Buyers were prosecuted for conducting real estate agency work with a license. Forster succeeded in having her conviction and fine discharged after Justice J Mallon described the $7,000 fine as out of proportion to the offence.

However, the $13,000 fine and conviction levied against Home Buyers was upheld and the Judge maintained that "the transaction as it proceeded was an offence."

Sawyer said the High Court decision should leave property finders in no doubt that they were acting unlawfully.

"It [the appeal] was successful in terms of sentencing, but in terms of lawfulness it was exactly the sort of decision we were looking for," he said.

"What you probably are going to see is more prosecutions and prosecutions that will probably help to even more clearly define boundaries."

Sawyer said the REAA was aware that many property finders work in conjunction with real estate agents and that these agents may also face legal proceedings.

"Certainly the Authority's view is that we will be targeting these people [agents] after this decision, we are now showing a very keen interest in the actions of these agents," he said.

"There are certainly some questions to be asked of the agents themselves, because they're meant to be providing a professional service, but what service is the consumer getting when someone else is able to come along and flick it on at quite a profit?"

Landlords spoke to Forster who had just returned to the country after a month overseas.

She said she wanted time to fully digest the ruling and would make a statement in the near future.

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