Fair Trading investigates Byron agency
NSW Fair Trading is investigating the Byron Bay Belle Property real estate franchise in relation to trust account deficiencies of more than $550,000.
The Fletcher Street agency was closed two weeks ago and a franchise agreement with Belle Property Australasia was terminated.
Fair Trading appointed an independent manager to oversight the wind-down of the business, seized the agency’s business records and interviewed a number of people involved in the business.
Mr Stowe has urged affected consumers to contact NSW Fair Trading for information and advice “as a matter of urgency” on 13 32 20.
“In particular, this applies to anyone who may have booked a holiday rental, purchased a property or entered into a lease,” he said.
Fair Trading started its investigation on June 23 after being contacted by Belle Property Group with advice that its internal audit branch had identified anomalies with the trust accounts of one of its franchisees.
Mr Stowe said Fair Trading had responsibilities under the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002 and under associated legislation, such as the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, to protect property buyers, sellers, tenants and land-lords.
“Fair Trading requires real estate agents to comply with the laws that govern the industry and to ensure appropriate arrangements are in place to manage large sums of clients’ money,” he said.
“Consumers can apply to the Property Services Compensation Fund for redress.”
The Property Services Compensation Fund helps people who find themselves out of pocket because an agent or conveyancer, in the course of carrying on the business of a licensee, has failed to account for money or other valuable property held in trust.