A South Auckland real estate agent has been found guilty of misconduct and was "seriously incompetent and seriously negligent" when selling two properties.
A complaints committee brought a case against Shalendra Goundar to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal over two properties he sold in Papatoetoe.
Goundar, the branch manager and owner of Century 21 Papatoetoe, was found to have failed to inform buyers Khulbushan Joshi and Jeevan Joshi of their rights or the opportunity to seek independent legal advice.
The tribunal heard Goundar had assisted in selling properties to the Joshis and allowed his sisters Nalina Goundar and Regina Goundar to carry out real estate agency work, despite neither of them holding a licence.
The Joshis became interested in property in February 2014 and were introduced to the Goundars through a relative.
The first property the Joshis purchased, on Central Ave in Papatoetoe, was shown to them by Nalina. Despite not seeing the inside of the property, the Joshis decided to buy it at her suggestion.
Shalendra prepared the sale and purchase agreement, dated April 9, and the agreement was emailed to the Joshis.
Nalina arranged for the couple to use a law firm in Papatoetoe.
In October the second sister, Regina, entered into an agency agreement with her brother for him to sell a Papatoetoe property which she owned.
On the agreement it referred to Regina as "Regina Dewan".
A month later, Nalina and Regina approached the Joshis about buying a second property on Coronation Rd and the Joshis agreed.
Shalendra again prepared the sale and purchase agreement, which was emailed to the Joshis by a staff member. The agreement did not include Shalendra's name, or reference to his agency, but the Joshis signed the agreement and returned it.
After the transaction was settled, the Joshis received a certificate of title, which recorded the previous owner was "Kamal Ragina Dewan", the decision stated.
The Joshis never viewed the property before the purchase, relying on assurance from Nalina and Regina.
At the hearing before the tribunal Shalendra accepted in cross-examination that in both of the transactions he had had only a limited involvement.
The committee alleged that in having only a limited involvement in the transactions, Goundar failed to exercise skill, care, competence and diligence, failed to act in good faith, engaged in conduct likely to bring the industry into disrepute and misled the Joshis by withholding information.
It claimed he failed to provide the Joshis with an approved real estate guide before they signed the sale and purchase agreement, failed to recommend and give the Joshis the opportunity to seek independent legal advice and failed to ensure they were aware of his in-house complaints procedure, and the opportunity to access the real estate agent authority's complaints process.
The Joshis told the tribunal they had no experience in buying property and they had been apprehensive about doing so. They also said they believed Nalina and Regina would help them to get on the property ladder.
Shalendra Goundar's defence was that the Joshis were experienced business people and knew what they were doing. He told the tribunal they signed the sale and purchase agreement which contained an acknowledgement that they had received the real estate guide, and a statement recommending legal advice.
While the complaints committee accepted that Goundar had a limited role in the selling of the properties, it said his failure to give an explanation left the Joshis "none the wiser about their rights, obligations, and entitlements when purchasing property".
The tribunal said there was no evidence that Goundar went through the sale and purchase agreement with the Joshis and that he had failed to comply with rules around recommending legal advice.
It also found that he did not give written disclosure that his sister would benefit financially from the sale of one of the properties.
"There is a conflict in the evidence as to whether the Joshis knew that they were
buying the Coronation Rd property from Regina, and that she was Mr Goundar's
sister," the tribunal said.
"However, whether or not the Joshis knew that Regina was the vendor, and Mr Goundar was aware that they knew, Mr Goundar was still required to give written disclosure ... a known relationship will not absolve a licensee from complying," the tribunal said.
The tribunal found Goundar's "breaches of provisions of the [Real Estate Agents] Act and rules can only be seen as conduct that was likely to bring the industry into disrepute".
"His conduct was conduct that if known by the public generally, was more likely than not to lead members of the public to think that licensees should not condone it or find it to be acceptable."
Goundar's conduct was found to be "incompatible with the purpose of promoting public confidence in the performance of real estate agency work".
The tribunal, when finding him guilty of misconduct, said it was satisfied that when taken cumulatively Goundar's breaches could only be regarded as "seriously incompetent and seriously negligent real estate work".
Shalendra Goundar declined to comment when contacted by the Herald.