NSW Fair Trading revealed this week it had issued $12,650 worth of fines to real estate agents across the state who failed to comply with laws relating to sales and property management.
The inspections, conducted between 29 April and 2 May 2019, were part of NSW Fair Trading’s routine real estate program. It is the seventh operation targeting real estate agents in 2019.
NSW Fair Trading Commissioner, Rose Webb, says NSW Fair Trading regularly conducts compliance programs to proactively monitor the industry’s adherence to the law, to increase professionalism and build consumer confidence in the sector.
“The recent operation saw NSW Fair Trading inspectors target 24 real estate agents across the Sydney metropolitan and Bathurst areas,” she says.
NSW Fair Trading inspectors found 19 real estate agents from areas in Bathurst, Blaney, Lithgow, Marrickville, Bankstown, Molong, Riverwood, Wolli Creek, Hurlstone Park and Hurstville did not comply with the law.
“NSW Fair Trading inspectors issued a total of 12 penalty infringement notices, worth $12,650, for various breaches, including unlicensed work and lack of proper supervision of business dealings,” says Webb.
“In addition, there were seven warning letters issued for breaches relating to rules of conduct, signage and note taking in sales files.”
Webb says these operations are an opportunity for NSW Fair Trading inspectors to educate and remind agents about their legislative obligations – a statement that did not sit well with REINSW CEO, Tim McKibbin.
“The legislation applicable to agency practice is very prescriptive,” he says. “Property transactions always involve large sums of money and are, by their very nature, legally complex.
“Given these factors, how much education and experience does a person need to become a competent service provider – to respond to the reasonable expectations of consumers?
“This is a great question. NSW Fair Trading says less than a week’s education and zero experience. Unbelievable, but true.”
McKibbin says after encouraging and assisting inadequately educated people into agency practice, NSW Fair Trading is now prosecuting the same people for being unaware of a specific part of the legislation they have selected randomly.
“NSW Fair Trading sets these people up to fail,” says McKibbin. “Eighty per cent of people entering the industry leave in the first 12 months because they have been inadequately trained to do the job.
“Rather than spending so much time with media releases ingratiating itself to the public, it would be far more productive for NSW Fair Trading to allocate that time to understanding the industry.”