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25 November 2015

The state’s consumer watchdog has taken action against an Adelaide real estate agency over the wrongful termination of a property rental arrangement.

Adelaide Realty Pty Ltd trading as L.J Hooker Flinders Park issued a notice of termination to the tenant with a notice period of 60 days under the Residential Tenancies Act 1996 on the grounds that the landlord required possession of the property.

“Under Section 81 of the Act, a landlord may issue a notice of termination for either their own occupation or for a spouse, child or parents,” Deputy Commissioner for Consumer Affairs George Kamencak said.

Mr Kamencak said the tenant believed this reasoning to be false and elected to take the matter to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.

“In this situation, the tenant claimed the new tenant was not a family member, which was later confirmed during the hearing by a property manager for L.J Hooker Flinders Park - who has since resigned,” he said.

“The property manager advised the tribunal the landlord’s family member had reneged on the tenancy and the new tenant was indeed not family.

“In this case, L.J Hooker Flinders Park failed to provide an appropriate notice of termination to the tenant of at least 90 days as outlined in the Act. As a result, the business was forced to pay $300 compensation to the tenant for this breach.”

Further monitoring of the business by inspectors from Consumer and Business Services (CBS) found L.J Hooker Flinders Park had acted on behalf of a vendor without authorisation after not correctly meeting contractual requirements.

“Three sales files were found to have exceeded the prescribed number of days of a sales agency agreement resulting in conduct likely to breach the Land and Business (Sales and Conveyancing) Act 1994.

“While L.J Hooker Flinders Park as a registered land agent is likely to have committed offences that are proper cause for disciplinary action, on this occasion CBS has accepted a written Assurance from the owner of the business that they will refrain from engaging in specified unlawful conduct.

“The Assurance states the business will comply with all relevant Acts and within eight months undertake retraining and development with a registered training organisation, legal practitioner or compliance professional with experience and/or accreditation with SA Real Estate Law.

“CBS is committed to ensuring all consumers have fair and honest dealings with those working in the South Australian real estate industry and we want to ensure registered agencies and individuals who are engaging in unlawful behaviour are identified.”

Consumer concerns or complaints can be made to CBS on 131 882 or for more information visit cbs.sa.gov.au.