Property editor of the NZ Herald

Auckland real estate agent fined $2000 for leaving open-home viewers to lock up

Carla Pedersen, an agent of Ray White Ponsonby, who asked a member of the public to lock up after an open home.
Carla Pedersen, an agent of Ray White Ponsonby, who asked a member of the public to lock up after an open home.

A Ponsonby real estate agent who got a member of the public to close up after an open home has been censured by the Real Estate Agents Authority.

Carla Pedersen of Damerell Group trading as Ray White Ponsonby was found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct and fined $2000 after a complaint was laid against her, according to the just-released complaints assessment committee decision.

A visitor to the open home Pedersen was running at a Ponsonby apartment in April last year found himself alone in the property and was then asked to lock the apartment and leave because Pedersen had left for another property. The visitor later complained to the watchdog.

"There were others at the open home but not the licensee, as she was attending another open home in the same apartment block," the decision said. "There was no other agency presence there.

"When the complainant and his partner were ready to leave, they were the last viewers and the licensee had not returned. He phoned the licensee, who advised him she had already left the area and was too busy to return. [She] asked the complainant to lock the door as he left. This left him concerned about the integrity and professionalism of the licensee," the committee's decision said.

Pedersen said "some people want to be left alone" and that as she had "back-to-back" open homes and had left the key to the other open home at the office, she asked if the last person could "snip" the door behind them. The apartment building was a gated community with cameras, she said, and at the viewing were existing owners in the building who were known to her. She did return to check that the property had been locked and she closed the blinds, the decision said.

The apartment vendors said they were unaware Pedersen was leaving people alone in their home, and would not have agreed to it.

According to the Real Estate Agents Act 2008, a licensee "must exercise skill, care, competence, and diligence at all times when carrying out real estate work", the committee noted.

"None of her reasons remove the requirement on a licensee to ensure a property is adequately secured and to avoid any risk of damage. Leaving the property as she did, exposed [it] to be unsecured and at risk of damage," the committee found.

"It appears the reason the licensee failed in her duty to attend the open home was because of her 'back-to-back' viewings. We hope that this experience will result in improved scheduling of her future open homes," the committee said.

- NZ Herald

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