Conveyancing business Low Co$t Pty Ltd (ACN 129 490 553) and its director Ashley Clarke have been penalised and reprimanded in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for breaches of the Conveyancers (Professional Conduct and Trust Account and General) Regulations 2008.
Between January 2012 and May 2013, Mr Clarke, 47, of Werribee, and Low Co$t engaged in conduct that was likely to mislead consumers into believing they could buy or sell a home for $440, based on information on the websites convey.com.au or conveyancingmelbourne.net.au.
Consumers who made enquiries received two emails from Mr Clarke; the emails were sent separately in a manner that resulted in consumers not reading the second email, which outlined additional costs. The consumers then received invoices and/or were charged substantially more than the original quote contained in the first email.
Mr Clarke and Low Co$t were reprimanded and each ordered to pay a penalty of $1200 into the Victorian Property Fund.
The following conditions were also placed on Mr Clarke’s and Low Co$t’s conveyancing licences for 18 months from 23 April 2015, the date of the order:
- Before they are engaged, clients must be advised in writing of the approximate total price to complete all searches and actions necessary for the prospective client’s property, including discretionary searches and costs
- Any advertised price for conveyancing services must contain words to the effect of “Total costs starting from”, “Professional fees starting from”, or “Disbursements starting from”
- The company and its staff must make reasonable attempts to answer or acknowledge a client’s query within three business days
- The company and Mr Clarke are to maintain an active voicemail on the main business contact number that states that the voicemail is not checked regularly, and queries are to be directed to the business email or alternative contact number
- The company and Mr Clarke are to send all cost disclosure documents to a prospective client in one email. The email is to index what documents are attached and advise clients to read all documents carefully
- All additional fees for services listed on the ‘Agreement and Acknowledgement Form – Personal Identification Sheet’ must be highlighted to the potential client in writing
- All written correspondence from the company and Mr Clarke is to be in the full name of the company and Mr Clarke as it appears on the conveyancer’s licence
- All emails received by the company and its staff in relation to conveyancing services provided by the company must be acknowledged in writing, to inform consumers that their email has been received.
Note: An earlier version of this page associated the website conveyancingmelbourne.com.au with Low Co$t Conveyancing Pty Ltd and Mr Clarke. There is no connection between conveyancingmelbourne.com.au and its owners, and Low Co$t Conveyancing and Mr Clarke.