An estate agent with a history of unprofessional conduct, including mishandling clients’ money, is facing the prospect of being banned from holding an estate agent’s licence.
Consumer Affairs Victoria has commenced disciplinary proceedings in the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) against licensed estate agent Thomas Aloysius, alleging he is not of good character or otherwise not a fit and proper person to hold a licence.
Last year Mr Aloysius, 49, of Hallam, was convicted of breaches of estate agent laws.
It is also alleged he has engaged in further misconduct since, as Director of Hills and Fort Real Estate Pty Ltd (ACN 622 654 362), a licensed estate agent. Hills and Fort Real Estate trades under the business names Freedom Realtors, Smart Negotiators and freedomproperty.com.au - Smart Negotiators.
Mr Aloysius was convicted in 2021 of charges related to mishandling money, failing to act in his principal’s best interest, and acting unprofessionally and in a way which was damaging to the industry’s reputation, under the Estate Agents Act 1980. At the time he was employed with MCRE AG Pty Ltd (ACN 133 554 800), a licensed estate agent trading as Area Specialists Aspendale Gardens.
The disciplinary proceedings will also allege that Mr Aloysius, in his role as Director of Hills and Fort Real Estate, has since:
- allowed the company to trade for a period of time without a licence
- failed to manage trust account money appropriately, as the company failed to pay money into a trust account in the name of the agent
- not acted fairly and honestly and to the best of his knowledge and ability as an estate agent
- engaged in conduct that is unprofessional or detrimental to the reputation or interests of the industry.
Director of Consumer Affairs Victoria, Nicole Rich said that estate agents who did not comply with their obligations to manage their clients’ money appropriately faced the prospect of being barred from working as an estate agent or agent’s representative.
“Trust money doesn’t belong to agents,” she said.
“We will act to protect buyers, vendors and the industry from unprofessional and unlawful conduct.”
Vendors and buyers should ensure they were dealing with a licensed estate agency, Ms Rich said.
“When large deposits are paid to unlicensed agents, consumers are left exposed. Unlicensed agents are not covered by the Victorian Property Fund, which provides compensation when an estate agent has misused or misappropriated trust money or property in the course of their work.”
“Unlicensed trading is also unfair on licensed agents who are competing in the real estate industry and doing the right thing,” she said.
If you are considering selling your property, check an agent’s licence status before engaging them, by visiting the estate agent public register. You can also read more about the professional conduct obligations of estate agents.
A Directions hearing in Mr Aloysius’ matter is scheduled for 26 September at VCAT.