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Realty check as unlicensed agent receives $5,000 fine

9 June 2020

A former Varsity Lakes real estate agent has been fined $5,000 in the Southport Magistrates Court (8 June 2020) after charges were laid by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT).

Kylie Jane Beecroft-Wilson, former sole director and principal licensee of Beecroft‑Wilson Real Estate Pty Ltd, pleaded guilty to operating as a real estate agent without a licence and making false representations that she held approval to supply real estate agency services for a period of time when she did not.

Mrs Beecroft-Wilson was fined $5,000. A conviction was not recorded.

The court heard that Mrs Beecroft-Wilson’s real estate agent’s licence, which she had held since February 2013, expired in December 2018 and that the licence of her company, Beecroft-Wilson Real Estate Pty Ltd, also expired in December 2018.

However, despite the expiration of these licences, Mrs Beecroft- Wilson continued to manage 11 properties for clients and operate a real estate trust account in her corporation’s name into which rent money was paid before being dispersed to owners.

Mrs Beecroft-Wilson also operated a business account into which she deposited rental commissions, management and letting fees, and she continued to advertise she represented a licensed real estate corporation on correspondence, receipts and new tenancy agreements, despite Beecroft-Wilson Real Estate Pty Ltd being deregistered by ASIC on 2 June 2019.

Mrs Beecroft-Wilson ceased trading in January 2020 when the OFT became aware that she was managing properties without a licence. The OFT appointed a receiver to manage and wind up the trust account.

In sentencing, Magistrate Mark Howden took into account Mrs Beecroft-Wilson’s early guilty plea, that there was no consumer detriment in relation to funds held in trust, and noted a fine would show that unlicensed conduct will not be accepted.

Fair Trading Executive Director Brian Bauer said Mrs Beecroft-Wilson’s continued operation of a real estate business despite the expiration of her licence and the winding up of her company presented dangers to both her and her clients.

“Large sums of money can change hands in property transactions so it is vital that agents are licensed to minimise the risk to consumers,” Mr Bauer said.

“The type of conduct demonstrated by Mrs Beecroft-Wilson risks undermining the confidence of consumers who have investments in the property industry.

“The OFT will take appropriate action against any individuals or agencies who are found to be not complying with fair trading laws.”

To conduct a free check on whether a person or corporation is licenced, or for more information about real estate agent’s obligations, visit the OFT website at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading.