Rockingham Real Estate Licensee Fined by State Administrative Court

PIC: Harcourts Rockingham/Facebook

A Rockingham real estate agency and its licensee were fined a total of $23,000 by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) for failing to file rental bonds with the bond administrator on time along with several trust account breaches.

Graeme Garwood and Sand Dollar (WA) Pty Ltd, trading as Harcourts Rockingham, were both reprimanded with a fine of $15,000 for the agency and $8,000 for Mr Garwood for breaching the law on real estate and commercial agents and the code of conduct by failing to exercise care, diligence and skill.

On two occasions, the agency failed to keep complete and accurate records of monies deposited in its trust account.

On five occasions he failed to enter details of all amounts received into his trust account within one business day of receipt and on nine occasions he failed to post rental deposits with the surety administrator within 14 days of receipt.

The violations took place from November 2020 to August 2021 and were related to the management of rental properties in Rockingham, Waikiki, Warnbro and Shoalwater.

Mr. Garwood and the agency told the SAT that the staff members responsible for the breaches were no longer employed by the agency and that processes were put in place to ensure the breaches did not happen again.

Consumer Protection Commissioner Gary Newcombe said estate agency managers must exercise adequate oversight to ensure compliance with the law.

“While licensees can sometimes blame staff for any shortcomings, ultimately the responsibility for ensuring the agency complies with the law rests solely with the person who controls in good faith,” said Mr Newcombe.

“These breaches and subsequent disciplinary action can result in a costly lesson for officers, as happened in this case. There is also a risk that the reputation and standing of the agency in the community could be tarnished and his license is in jeopardy.

“Our advice to officers is to ensure that there are processes and procedures in place to verify that trust account entries are accurate and that bond deposits are made within the 14-day period allowed.”

Further information on the obligations of estate agents, sales representatives and property managers can be found on the Consumer Protection website.