A real estate agency in Melbourne’s east will pay $880,000 after the Federal Court of Australia found it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct and making false or misleading representations about property sales.
Fletcher & Parker (Balwyn) Pty Ltd (ACN: 004 958 794) – operating as ‘Fletchers’ at its Blackburn and Canterbury offices – will pay the penalty into the Victorian Consumer Law Fund. It will also pay $40,000 towards Consumer Affairs Victoria’s legal costs.
Our investigations revealed the agency had marketed and negotiated the sale of 22 residential properties throughout 2015, knowing that the:
- vendors would not sell for a price within the listed range, or
- properties were unlikely to sell for the price listed.
The properties were located across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, including Blackburn, Box Hill, Burwood, Camberwell, Kew, Mitcham, Surrey Hills and Vermont.
The penalty exceeds more than $370,500 in total commissions the agency received for selling those properties.
Fletcher & Parker (Balwyn) must also issue a public notice acknowledging their contraventions and:
- publish it in the local Weekly Review newspaper in which the company advertises
- publish it on the company’s websites
- display it in the company’s offices for a period of six months.
The company must also implement a compliance program, including training its staff about their legal obligations under the Australian Consumer Law, and appoint a compliance officer to ensure the program is effectively designed, delivered and maintained.
The company will also have to submit documents used in the program to us, and to act on recommendations made by the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria and his staff.