An estate agent has lost her licence to practise for two years, after consent orders were made that it be cancelled until 2025.
Seymour agent, Saowanee Howell, 62, lost her licence following disciplinary proceedings brought by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal last year, where it was alleged that Ms Howell:
- failed to comply with a condition imposed on her licence;
- failed to cause her trust accounts to be audited annually for the financial years from 2012 to 2021;
- failed to, at all times, act fairly and honestly and to the best of her knowledge and ability in performing her functions as an agent; and
- engaged in conduct that was unprofessional or detrimental to the reputation or interests of her industry.
Ms Howell agreed to sign consent orders prepared by the Director, providing for the cancellation of her licence. These were later made by the Tribunal.
Trust account obligations are critical consumer protection measures, ensuring client money is safe when entrusted to an agent as part of a sale or rental transaction. As well as being barred from practising, agents who don’t have their accounts audited or fail to lodge a copy of the report may face penalties of up to almost $20,000.
The Business Licensing Authority imposed conditions on Ms Howell’s estate agent’s licence in July 2018, prohibiting her from receiving or otherwise dealing in any trust money as an estate agent, and from operating or being a signatory to any estate agent trust account.