A former South Yarra estate agency and its director and officer in effective control (OIEC) have been reprimanded and disqualified from holding an estate agents licence for two years following a hearing at the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), after acknowledging breaches of their trust account obligations under Victoria’s estate agent laws.
LMG Commercial Property Services Pty Ltd (ACN: 115869200) and its sole director and officer in effective control, Leo Mark Grogan, 55, of South Yarra, breached the Estate Agents Act 1980 and its associated regulations. The breaches included failure to:
- keep full and accurate trust accounting records
- have trust accounts audited within the required time for the 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years
- reconcile trust accounts at the end of each month
- verify that trust account reconciliation statements were true and accurate
- ensure that cheques were drawn in numerical order and cheque butt details properly completed
- act to the best of the agent’s knowledge and ability.
The company and Mr Grogan were also found to have engaged in conduct that is unprofessional or detrimental to the estate agency industry.
VCAT also found that Mr Grogan, in his duties as OIEC, had failed to properly control and supervise LMG’s estate agency business.
We inspected the company’s premises in June 2015, after receiving LMG’s previous financial year’s audit report. The investigation that followed led to us taking action against the company and Mr Grogan.
VCAT found that Mr Grogan and LMG were, as a result of the breaches, guilty of conduct that made them unfit to hold a licence.
We had also expressed concerns to VCAT that Mr Grogan was engaged as a consultant to a registered training organisation and delivering training to prospective estate agents and agent’s representatives, including in the area of trust accounts.
The tribunal’s orders included requirements for Mr Grogan to:
- undertake further training in certain units of study before instructing or training current or prospective estate agents, and
- provide copies of the tribunal’s decisions in this matter to any registered training organisations he is employed or contracted by as an instructor.
LMG and Mr Grogan had previously provided an enforceable undertaking to the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, in a matter relating to a trust account deficiency, in January 2009.