By ANNE GIBSON
Falsifying a document and pocketing a cash commission earned two Auckland real estate agents fines and suspensions.
The Real Estate Agents Licensing Board implemented disciplinary procedures against Ruth Louise Hastings, a property manager at Albany Real Estate, and Jennifer Joyce Grieve, a real estate agent at Ponsonby Real Estate, after finding they had both broken the law.
Hastings knowingly falsified one of the fundamental forms used in property, a tenancy bond refund form, and was fined the maximum $750 and suspended for five months.
Grieve pocketed an illegal cash commission on the sale of a Westmere property and was fined the maximum $750 and suspended for six months.
The first case involved renting a six-bedroom Coatesville house and $1100 bond. When the lease term was up and a final inspection of the house was made, various stains on the carpet were noticed as well as urine stains in the master bedroom.
The tenant agreed to pay a carpet cleaner and expected the bond would then be refunded. He filled in the bond refund form, stating that the amount due was $1100.
But Hastings changed the form, whiting out the $1100 from the box headed "tenant refund details" and recording that amount in the "landlord refund details".
She then submitted the falsified document to the Tenancy Services Bond Centre. She said in defence that she believed the tenant had agreed to forfeiture of the bond and did not believe she had done anything wrong.
Although she admitted her actions were "inexcusable", she did not profit from the alteration. She had panicked and was under stress because she was recovering from major surgery at the time.
But the board said it did not accept part of her explanation.
"After three years as a property manager, Ms Hastings ought to have known how to deal with such a situation even if it was new to her, or at least she ought to have taken steps to find out the correct procedure," it said.
The second case involved a Westmere property for sale privately and although Grieve's agency, Ponsonby Real Estate, did not have a listing for the property, she introduced buyers to the vendors and an offer of $760,000 was made.
The buyer was Kotare Trust, which the board said Steven Glucina - a salesman with Ponsonby Real Estate - had an interest in. But evidence was given that at the time of the deal, Glucina assured Grieve that the trust and he were independent, he was not legally or beneficially related to the trust and he had taken advice from the institute about the trust and compliance requirements.
The property was for sale by private treaty so no commission could be charged, but Grieve solicited a $10,000 commission on the sale which she then failed to disclose to the principal, Terry Doherty, of Ponsonby Real Estate.
Although she was acting as a salesperson, she did not hold a licence and was not entitled to collect the commission directly. She was not entitled to receive the commission on her own account.
In defence, it was submitted that Grieve's actions did not truly reflect her character and integrity and that she was mistaken about her duties rather than trying to avoid them.
When questioned about the transaction, she had immediately repaid the $10,000 to the vendors so no loss was caused by her actions.
Another decision is understood to be pending on the Ponsonby Real Estate case.
By ANNE GIBSON