A Melbourne estate agency has been penalised $330,000 and ordered to pay costs of $80,000 after admitting it had engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct, and making false and misleading representations about the sale of land.
Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against Hocking Stuart (Richmond) Pty Ltd (ACN: 080 596 603) in the Federal Court of Australia, after our investigation revealed the agency had advertised price ranges lower than the expected selling price in the marketing of 11 properties in Richmond and Kew.
The company must also implement a compliance program aimed at educating its agents about their legal obligations under the Australian Consumer Law.
This program will include the appointment of a compliance officer to ensure that the program is effectively designed, delivered and maintained. The officer will be required to submit documents used in the program to us, and to act on recommendations made by our Director and staff.
Hocking Stuart (Richmond) must also publish a notice acknowledging their contraventions in the Domain liftout of The Age and the Weekly Review (Melbourne) newspapers, and display the notice in their office for six months.
The company must pay the penalty into the Victorian Consumer Law Fund. The instalments are due by:
- 30 December 2016 ($90,000)
- 31 May 2017 ($80,000)
- 30 November 2017 ($80,000), and
- 31 May 2018 ($80,000).
The costs must be paid by 31 December 2018.