A Springvale agent’s representative has been fined and reprimanded after he and his wife bought a property that his employer was selling - without telling the client, his employer or authorities.
Michael Minh Le, who worked for MCDRE Springvale Pty Ltd, failed to get his client’s permission to buy the property and notify the Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, as required by the Estate Agents Act 1980 (the Act).
Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against Mr Le, who was fined $3000 and reprimanded by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) on 4 January 2011.
The agency returned its $10,460 commission to the client in December 2011 upon learning of Mr Le’s actions.
In March 2011, the client engaged the agency to auction her property in Union Grove, Springvale. She told the agency she required settlement within two months of the auction date - 16 April 2011 - as she had already bought another property.
Mr Le supervised the open for inspections and attended the auction, which attracted only one bidder. The property had a reserve price of $570,000 but was passed in at $535,000.
After failing to buy the property at auction, the sole bidder made further offers of $540,000 and $550,000 with differing settlement terms. The client rejected these and the property remained for sale.
Mr Le then gave the agency’s officer in effective control (OIEC) an offer of $523,000, without stating that it came from his wife. The OIEC passed this offer to the client, who accepted it on 29 April 2011 with an 'and/or nominee' clause.
Mr Le and his wife became the registered owners of the property on 20 June 2011.
On 4 January 2013, VCAT found that Mr Le:
- purchased and became beneficially interested in a property that his employer was commissioned to sell - breaching section 55(3) of the Act as it then read
- accepted title to a property that his employer was commissioned to sell - breaching section 55(5) of the Act as it then read
- did not at all times act fairly and honestly and to the best of his knowledge and ability as an agent’s representative, by continuing to act for the client and failing to inform her or his principal that the offer was from his wife – breaching section 55(14) of the Act and Regulation 19 of the Estate Agents (Professional Conduct) Regulations 2008
- continued to act for his principal despite a conflict of interest, by continuing to act for the client and failing to inform his principal that the offer was from his wife – breaching Regulation 20(2)
- engaged in conduct that was unprofessional and detrimental to the reputation and interests of the estate agency industry – breaching Regulation 21(2).
You can check a licencee's current status via our Search public registers page.