From 2 April 2018
Articles in Category: Business
General business information that may be of interest to leaders and business owners
Not good news regrettably; however, your licensee, administrators, sales team and all your office might benefit from the following information as a reminder regarding the importance of compliance as nobody wants to be in this position. Stacey Holt.
5th March 2018
A national real estate agency has entered into two enforceable undertakings with the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), for alleged breaches of the Australian Consumer Law and the Property Occupations Act 2014.
Between November 2016 and June 2017, Purplebricks Australia Pty Ltd, entered into agreements with consumers who were not made aware of the terms of the fees charged. Consumers were also misled about additional services offered by Purplebricks, despite the agency advertising ‘low, fixed fees’ for their services when selling property.
Also during this period, Purplebricks failed to fulfil some of its regulatory obligations about use of appropriate accounts software, use of a non-Queensland bank account and notification of substitute licensees and other places of business.
The OFT received several complaints from consumers alleging false and misleading representations on the Purplebricks website and advertising regarding their fees, particularly that the fixed fees were payable regardless of whether a property was sold, or their services were cancelled.
The enforceable undertakings, which will remain in force for three years, require Purplebricks to pay a penalty of $20,000 and ensure that all representations made by the business, particularly those concerning fees and additional services, are not false or misleading.
The OFT acknowledged prior to entering into the enforceable undertaking, Purplebricks had amended their appointment forms and processes to ensure consumers were aware of the terms of their fixed fee charges, and amended their website and advertising to ensure consumers were not further misled.
Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Routledge said the enforceable undertaking showed the business and its directors were willing to work with the OFT to ensure obligations were met.
“Queenslanders have the right to expect that real estate agents will make accurate and honest agreements with their clients,” Mr Routledge said.
“If real estate agents breach laws and industry regulations, the OFT will not hesitate to investigate and pursue if required.”
The OFT conducts a series of proactive compliance operations each year, targeting malpractice in the real estate industry. Real estate agents and consumers may report suspected misconduct directly to the OFT.
Associations and consumers may report misleading representations to the OFT by lodging a complaint at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or by calling 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
An enforceable undertaking by the OFT is an alternative to court action where a breach of legislation is alleged. It is considered a legally binding agreement, which if broken can result in court action being commenced for breaking a term or condition of the undertaking, as well as seeking orders from the court to enforce the original undertaking.
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Queensland 'training menu" - please contact us for services outside of Queensland
The following sessions and topics below can be delivered to you and your team, at a time, date and venue that suit you. They can also be delivered in a variety such as one hour, two hours or three hours. The choice is yours. If your training and education needs are not listed in the “menu”, please let us know and we will do all we can to accommodate your needs. All education and training sessions focus on risk management, time management, compliance and best practice. Stacey Holt delivers all training services for Real Estate Excellence.
The Glen Hotel, 24 Gaskell Street, Eight Mile Plains ( Brisbane )
Accommodation available at event venue www.glenhotel.com.au
19th June 2018 - 930am to 3.30pm
or register online (booking fees apply when booking online)
Agency administrator special event View short video
This one-day special event for agency administrators, managers and licensees will include the following topics with focus on risk management, best practice and compliance for sales, property management and administration.
Understanding the Government departments that impact our industry and what happens when there is an investigation due to a consumer complaint
The laws that impact the industry and that all should know
Conduct law standards for salespeople and property managers
Public liability insurance and professional indemnity – do all staff know what should be done if an ‘event’ occurs
PO Form 6 for sales and property management – best practice completion
Trust account must know laws
Tips on how to train and support staff with compliance and best practice
Rental property and sales – the laws that all should know
RTRA Act investigations - what licensees should know
(Part of study book provided for attendee printing is from the Sales Excellence and PME manual)
Terms of event
If the attendee client cancels 14 days or less prior to a training event, a 100% of ticket price cancellation fee applies. When more than 14 days’ notice is given, a full refund will be provided.
- 14 February 2018
- News alerts
Consumer Affairs Victoria has received recent reports of a possible hacking scam targeting the email accounts of estate agents, and causing home buyers to deposit their money into the wrong bank account.
In most cases, the home buyer was sent an email from the selling agent with the contract of sale and trust account details for payment of the deposit. Shortly afterwards, they received a second email from the same email address, advising them of an `error’ in the first email, and to deposit their money into a different account.
While it looks legitimate, the second email is possibly a hack - and money paid goes to an account not related to the selling agent.
If you have purchased a home and receive an email from the estate agent with trust account details to make payment, call the agent or visit them in person to verify that the email is legitimate. Be very suspicious if you receive a second email telling you to make payment into another account, even if it is from the same email address.
We strongly encourage estate agents, and all businesses, to regularly review and secure their online systems. Follow these tips to help keep email accounts safe:
- consider setting up a two-step verification process with your email accounts. This requires a user to provide more than one type of proof that they are authorised before they can access an account
- change your passwords and other verification details regularly
- delete spam messages without opening them
- do not share your email address online unless you need to. Consider setting up a separate email just for online transactions, and another for communicating privately with clients and customers.
For more information on maintaining your security online, visit the Email page on the Federal Government’s Stay Smart Online website.
If you are an estate agent sending account details for customers to make payment via email, we encourage you to advise them to:
- be very wary if they receive a second email telling them to pay into another account, even if the email comes from the same address
- call your office to check the email’s legitimacy.
Any business or individual who believes they have been tricked into paying money into an incorrect account, should contact their bank immediately.
Instances of cybercrime can be reported to the Australian Cybercrime and Online Reporting Network.
IDCare is a not-for-profit organisation that provides free support services and resources to people and organisations targeted by cybercriminals and scams. For more information, visit the IDCare website.
While our recent reports indicate possible hacking of estate agent email accounts, any business or individual can be a target for cybercriminals. For more information on staying safe online, visit the Stay Smart Online website.
Sourced from www.consumer.vic.gov.au