Ballarat estate agency Gull and Company (ACN: 005 523 099) has been reprimanded and penalised $5,000 by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for operating without a licence during 2015.
The company operated without a licence between 27 August and 19 October of that year, during which time it carried out estate agent functions.
In June and August of 2015, the Business Licencing Authority (BLA) emailed Gull and Company, reminding it to lodge its annual statement and pay the required fee, which the company did not do within the required time. As a result, Gull and Company’s licence was automatically cancelled.
The company initially claimed that it had not received the second email, and was therefore not given sufficient notice of its annual statement and payment obligations, as required under the Estate Agents Act 1980.
Prior to the VCAT hearing, Gull and Company arranged for a forensic examination of an old computer server, which showed that the company had received the second email.
As well as the penalty and reprimand, Gull and Company must also:
- advise vendors that it acted for while unlicensed that, among other things, it was not a licensed estate agent at the time
- establish a system to ensure that it lodges its annual statements and pays the required fees on time.
Gull and Company applied to the BLA for a new licence, which was granted on 20 October 2015.
The $5,000 penalty must be paid into the Victorian Property Fund.