A former Queensland real estate agent is set to part with over $30,000 in both compensation and penalties after “serious misconduct which was flagrantly intentional”.
After entering bankruptcy, Richard Lucas Bomhof had his real estate agent licence cancelled. He was an agent between February 2006 and August 2017.
Mr Bomhof found employment at an agency and was tasked with selling or leasing out a commercial property in September 2017. This lasted until January 2018, when the agency terminated his employment.
However, Mr Bomhof continued to work with the client. He also received a total of $16,750 in pre-paid commission to his own bank account, which he used for personal expenses.
In March 2018, the client discovered Mr Bomhof was unlicensed and terminated his services.
Pleading guilty, Mr Bomhof was fined $15,000 by the Southport Magistrates Court on 8 October. Further, he was was ordered to pay $16,750 to the affected client.
Magistrate Finger took Mr Bomhof’s guilty plea into account, but described his behaviour as serious and intentional misconduct.
Brain Bauer, Fair Trading executive director, said there was a need for real estate agents to take licensing seriously.
“Large sums of money change hands in property transactions, so it is vitally important that agents are honest when dealing with clients,” Mr Bauer said.
“The verdict handed down in today’s case is a reminder that agents must act fairly and lawfully.”
If investors are concerned an agent they are using is unlicensed, they can verify that themselves, according to Antonia Mercorella, the CEO of the Real Estate Institute of Queensland.
“If [investors] want to be sure that they are using a licensed agent, they can actually verify that with the Office of Fair Trading does actually make a register available to the public. You can actually confirm that you are using either a licensed agent or a registered salesperson,” Ms Mercorella said to Smart Property Investment.
Additionally, she said investors can ask their agent to see proof of their licensing, as there is nothing stopping investors from doing so.
If the worst case happens and investors find out their agent is unlicensed, investors should be getting into contact with the Office of Fair Trading to lodge their complaint.
“It is unlawful to carry out the activities that are reserved for a licensed real estate agent unless you have the appropriate qualification and you hold the appropriate license,” Ms Mercorella said.
“As we saw in this case, there can be very serious consequences for acting as an unlicensed agent.”
Ms Mercorella added an individual selling property without a licence is “highly unusual”.
“In the vast majority of cases, if someone is purporting to be an agent, in our experience they generally are and they are appropriately licensed,” she said.