An estate agent’s representative has been given a criminal conviction and fined $8,000 after he asked a purchaser to pay some of their deposit to his personal bank account instead of to the agency’s trust account on behalf of the vendors who had engaged him to help sell their home.
Thomas Henry Albert Aloysius, 48, of Hallam, was convicted 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 (the Act).
Mr Aloysius was employed with MCRE AG Pty Ltd, a licensed estate agent trading as Area Specialists Aspendale Gardens, at the time he committed the offences.
Consumer Affairs Victoria took action against Mr Aloysius after receiving a complaint from one of the vendors.
Between May and June 2017, Mr Aloysius advised the vendors that he had received an offer of $600,000 to purchase their property, when the offer made by the purchaser was $620,000.
He then accepted a $20,000 partial deposit from the purchaser into his personal bank account, instead of the required trust account.
Mr Aloysius pleaded guilty to four charges:
- One related to his misuse of the $20,000, in breach of the Act.
- Three related to breaches of regulations under the Act. These included that Mr Aloysius:
- did not act in his principal’s best interests
- acted for a principal where to do so placed his interests in conflict with that of that principal; and
- engaged in conduct that was unprofessional and detrimental to the reputation and interests of the estate agency industry.
Consumers suffered stress and financial loss as a result of Aloysius’ offending.
The matter was heard on 1 July in the Dandenong Magistrates’ Court.
Anyone considering selling their property is encouraged to read about the professional conduct obligations of estate agents and check an agent’s licence status before engaging them, by visiting the estate agent public register.