Brisbane letting agent disqualified after trust fund misappropriation

Brisbane letting agent disqualified after trust fund misappropriation
Brisbane letting agent disqualified after trust fund misappropriation

A former Brisbane real estate agent has been disqualified from the property industry by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT), following an Office of Fair Trading (OFT) investigation.

Patricia Margaret Harper, former director of residential letting and management business Lonrae Pty Ltd operating ‘The Parc Apartments’ in Brisbane, was found to have misappropriated money received in trust, breaching her obligations as a property agent.

Ms Harper was fined $8,000 and disqualified from working in the property industry for 10 years.

The tribunal heard Lonrae went into receivership in December 2013.

In January 2014, the OFT initiated an investigation into the business after a suspected shortfall in the trust account was reported. The investigation subsequently revealed $49,869 was missing.

From November 2011, Ms Harper falsely receipted rental amounts into trust records for rent purportedly paid, for a unit Lonrae was renting, in effect using other trust money to pay her rent. She had also accepted bond payments in cash from tenants and had failed to deposit the cash into the trust account, as well as failing to pay the bond money to the Residential Tenancies Authority as required.

In its investigation, the OFT noted the trust account records (both electronic and physical) were not kept in an appropriate manner, which contributed to the business’s final state of affairs.

Fair Trading Acting Executive Director Craig Turner said under no circumstances was it proper conduct for a property agent to misuse trust money.

“Agents are held to a high standard and must deal with trust money, including bond money properly. They must only transfer it to the rightfully entitled persons and they must accurately record transactions,” Mr Turner said.

“Anyone in the industry who treats trust money as their personal moneybox will be dealt with by the OFT to the full extent of the law.”

Brisbane Trust Fund

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