Landlords and real estate agents could face five years in prison by telling tenants to pay rent with their superannuation

Landlords and real estate agents could face five years in prison by telling tenants to pay rent with their superannuation
Landlords and real estate agents could face five years in prison by telling tenants to pay rent with their superannuation

Landlords and real estate agents could face court, and prison or penalties up to $1.3 million, if they advice renters to use their superannuation to cover their rental payment during the coronavirus crisis.

In a note sent by ASIC's financial services enforcement group director Tim Mullally to the Real Estate Institute of Australia, Mullally said it could breach financial advice laws.

“ASIC is aware that some real estate agents are advising tenants who are unable to pay their rent, or who may find themselves in such a situation in future, to consider applying for early release of their superannuation," the letter read.

“Recent media reports and social media commentary outlining this conduct by some real estate agents is of significant concern to ASIC and, we would hope, you."

“ASIC intends to monitor this situation closely, and if contraventions of the licensing requirements of the Corporations Act are found, ASIC will not hesitate to act swiftly to protect vulnerable consumers,” Mullaly said.

The letter comes after workers who have been laid off due to COVID-19 were given permission to access up to $20,000 worth of superannuation over the next two years.

Mullaly continued stating that financial advice must only be provided by qualified and licensed financial advisers, not by real estate agents.

Individuals can be fined up to $126,000 and up to five years in jail for providing unlicensed financial advice. Corporations can be slapped with fines up to $1.26 million.

“Tenants facing financial difficulty need sound financial guidance and potentially debt counselling. Specifically pointing them to and recommending them to consider the specific possibility of accessing superannuation is, again, likely to amount to a breach of the Act,” Mullaly said.

 

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson

Joel Robinson is a property journalist based in Sydney. Joel has been writing about the residential real estate market for the last five years, specializing in market trends and the economics and finance behind buying and selling real estate.

Tags: 
Financial Advice Landlords

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