Real estate agents Helen and James Limnios have been reprimanded and fined $4,000 each by the State Administrative Tribunal for taking unlawful fees prior to settlement of transactions.
Mr Limnios had arranged for remuneration for services provided, prior to settlement of a number of real estate transactions, through a range of ‘consultancy agreements’, between 2004 and 2006, the Department of Commerce said in a statement.
It explained that the Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978 (WA) prohibits real estate agents from receiving commission or remuneration prior to settlement.
Mr Limnios consented to orders that he be reprimanded and fined $4,000 for failing to exercise adequate skill, care and diligence.
Similarly, Mrs Limnios also consented to orders that she be reprimanded and fined$4,000 for contravening the code of conduct for real estate agents, by failing to adequately supervise Limnios Property Group.
Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll said in this case there had been multiple instances of payments being made in advance of settlement and this practice is illegal.
"Tthe purpose of the prohibition is to ensure that sellers cannot be pressured into agreeing to early release of payments in the midst of negotiations for a transaction," Ms Driscoll said.
“While the purchasers’ funds were safely held in trust, the agents involved in this arrangement were in breach of regulations that are aimed at controlling property transactions in this state and these types of arrangements are unlawful.
“It’s essential that all agents involved in property sales and the handling of funds arising from those transactions comply fully with every aspect of the law and ensure that commissions are paid only upon settlement of the property.
“Even experienced and reputable agents must ensure that they understand and observe their obligations.
"Prior to this case, Limnios Property Group and Helen Limnios have operated in Western Australia as licensed real estate agents for more than 30 years without facing any disciplinary proceedings of any description.
"And James Limnios has been a licensed real estate agent for more than 20 years with no previous disciplinary proceedings against him."
Allegations of wrongdoing by Atha Limnios (Senior), a business partner and co-owner of Limnios Property Group and against the company Limnios Special Projects Pty Ltd were withdrawn.