Property Buzz

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Agency cops $200,000 fine for unlicensed trading, WA bans rental bidding, and Qld accelerates approvals of major developments

Welcome to Property Buzz, I’m Juliet Helmke. Today is Friday, the 18th of April.

– A Melbourne agency based in Sunshine in the city’s west has been convicted of operating without a licence between December 2020 and April 2021.

– The agency, which traded as Area Specialist Sunshine, faced three charges of unlicensed trading, trust account breaches, and failing to meet an inspector’s investigation requirements, and was found guilty of all three offences by Melbourne Magistrates’ Court.

– As a penalty for the actions, the business was ordered to pay $197,000, forfeiting the commission or profit they made while operating without a licence. The fine must be paid to the Victorian Property Fund, which compensates consumers who have lost money due to the misuse of trust funds by a real estate professional or conveyancer.

– The agency must also pay an additional $5,000 fine for the three charges on which it was convicted. No longer trading, the business entered voluntary administration in December of last year.

– In Western Australia, a sweeping overhaul of the state’s tenancy laws will see new regulations roll out over three phases, with the first phase, set to take effect in May, banning the practice of rental bidding. 

– Further policies will see rental increases limited to once every 12 months, up from once every six months, while it will be easier for pets to be kept in tenancies as landlords will be required to have a reason for pets to not be allowed in the property.

– The new laws also include provisions for renters to make small modifications, such as hanging pictures, and set up a pathway for tenants to take landlords to court for “retaliatory action” against tenants exercising their rights.

– A new system for handling bonds, which will hopefully reduce the number of bond disputes, is the last of the reforms set to be implemented, with the update due in 2025.

– And in Queensland, the state has passed a law creating powers to fast track development applications and  condition building approval on meeting social and affordable housing requirements.

– Housing minister Meaghan Scanlon said the state was now equipped  to build “more homes, faster – plain and simple,” with the establishment of a State  Facilitated Development team to fast track the assessment of development applications for infill housing developments, with an eye to speeding up residential building that includes affordable or social housing.

– The state is promising that under these changes, some developments will be 

able to get the go-ahead in as little as 75 business days.

That’s Property Buzz today. Join us again tomorrow, the 20th of April, for your daily dose of property buzz.

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