Estate agent banned from ever selling property again

The estate agent attempted to get the elderly man to sign over his $850,000 home to her for just $433,000. File photo / Thinkstock
The estate agent attempted to get the elderly man to sign over his $850,000 home to her for just $433,000. File photo / Thinkstock

A real estate agent who tried to dupe an elderly widower out of his home had been previously reprimanded for mistreating a tenant and is now in jail for fraud.

Jodie Louise Kitto's "disturbingly fraudulent'' scheme has resulted in her being banned by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal from ever selling property again.

The tribunal said Kitto tried to force 77-year-old Auckland man Colin Frankham to swap his Beach Haven home, where he had lived for more than 50 years, for her property.

She forged documents showing he had signed over his home - for which he was seeking $850,000 - for her Bayview house, which she first said was valued at $340,000, and later upgraded to $433,000.

In its decision, the tribunal said her actions between September 2010 and July 2011 amounted to "appalling misconduct''.

"The defendant embarked on a course of fraudulent conduct against the complainant and harassed him and failed to promote and protect his interests.''

The tribunal heard that Mr Frankham had decided to sell his house in April 2010 following the death of his wife.

Kitto knocked on his door in September 2010, and got him to sign what he thought was an agent's authority for sale.

Over the coming months she tried to convince him to buy her own property on Hotspur Place, but Mr Frankham refused as it was unsuitable.

But Kitto left documents on his doorstep, including papers appearing to be contracts selling his home to her for $433,000, and another selling her home to him for $433,000.

A settlement notice for the sale and purchase of her home came in January 2011, and later, two keys for her house accompanied a handwritten letter claiming she was moving into his home on July 23.

When he refused to move, Kitto issued him with a trespass notice, warning him to stay away from his own home. Mr Frankham ignored the threats and sought legal advice.

Kitto denied the misconduct charge but did not take part in the tribunal process.

She is currently serving a two-year, three-month jail term after being convicted in May this year of four separate frauds.

The unrelated convictions meant she was automatically banned from holding a real estate's licence for 10 years, but the tribunal believed she should never practise again.

"In our considered and unanimous view, [Kitto] must never again be permitted to re-enter the real estate industry in any capacity,'' it ruled.

"The defendant's actions can be summarised as that she was indifferent to and seemingly unaware of her obligations as a real estate agent; and, more concerningly, disturbingly fraudulent.''

Mr Frankham, who still lives at the Beach Haven property, said he didn't want to talk about his experience and just wanted it to be over.

He said it had been a learning experience, and at 77 years of age, he was still learning.

The resident now living in Kitto's former Hotspur Place property said they didn't know her, but that bailiffs had called four to five times looking for her. A former neighbour at another house Kitto previously owned said she had also tried to convince them to do a house-swap.

At the time, Kitto was living in a different address in Bayview, and asked her neighbour to look through her property, with a view to swapping. The neighbour said they had no interest in a swap.

Kitto was also criticised in a Tenancy Tribunal judgement in 2010, when acting as a landlord for another property she owned in Beach Haven.

The judgement said she threatened to remove her tenant by force, in one instance telling him "the boys'' were on the way to remove him.

She was ordered to pay back the tenant more than $10,000 in costs and damages.

Kitto was formerly a director and shareholder in three companies, Divine Design Property Dressing Limited, Investable Limited, and Property Auckland Limited.

- APNZ

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