Melbourne estate agency Hoskins Maroondah Pty Ltd (ACN: 095 367 712) and its director must pay almost $900,000 in fines and compensation for underquoting contraventions.
The Federal Court of Australia found that the company, also known as Hoskins Real Estate Croydon, failed in its obligations under the Australian Consumer Law by:
- engaging in misleading and deceptive conduct towards potential property purchasers and two vendor clients in the sale of land
- making false and misleading representations to potential property purchasers and two vendor clients in the sale of land
- engaging in unconscionable conduct towards two vendor clients.
The court also found that the company’s director, Brent Robert Peters, 45, of Croydon Hills, aided and abetted these offences.
We started court action after our investigations showed that the company:
- advertised 24 properties for sale at prices lower than the company believed they would actually sell for
- told two vendors it was acting for that their properties would sell for much less than the company believed they would. This allowed the company to claim ‘incentivised commissions’ when the properties sold at a much higher price.
The properties were located in Croydon, Croydon Hills, Croydon North, Mooroolbark, Park Orchards, Ringwood, Ringwood North, Warranwood and Wonga Park.
Hoskins Maroondah and Mr Peters must pay:
- $860,000 in penalties
- $29,550 compensation to the two vendors
- $10,000 in our court costs.
The court has also ordered the company and Mr Peters to:
- not repeat this offending in future and comply with the law in relation to underquoting
- implement a compliance program for staff designed to ensure no further contraventions of the same nature occur
- publish details of the court’s orders on its website and display these in its office.
The Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria has informed the Business Licensing Authority (BLA) of the court’s decision. The BLA licenses estate agents in Victoria. It can also place conditions on and refuse to grant licences in accordance with the Estate Agents Act 1980.
You can check a licensee’s current status on our Public register of licensed estate agents page.