Audit of real estate agents finds 20% are not compliant

Fair trading slaps 60 agents with fines

An audit of more than 300 random estate agents by NSW Fair Trading has found one-in-five is practising with out-of-date qualifications.

Real estate agents are legally required to undertake continuing professional development (CPD) courses each year. The courses are brief, lasting between four and 12 hours.

But a random audit of 314 estate agents in NSW found 22% of them were not up to date on their training, and were therefore non-compliant with the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act (2002).

Staying up to date with training is essential for agents when dealing with a property market undergoing 'major changes', says a NSW Fair Trading spokesperson.

"There have been a number of major changes in the industry in the past 12 months that apply to property sales, property management and to the strata laws.

"Licence and certificate holders update their knowledge and understanding of the industry and legislation to reduce the risk of consumer detriment. Consumers dealing with a licence or certificate holder who has not attended the required training may not receive the correct information or service."

Of the 68 agents found to be non-compliant, 60 were penalised. The combined total of the fines handed down is $35,750.

The maximum penalty for one estate agent failing to update their qualifications is a fine of $5500.

Real estate licensees have a responsibility to ensure agents complete their CPD each year. Failing to do so may "contravene legislation, resulting in further fines for the business".

Fair trading confirmed there were cases of firms employing more than one non-compliant agent, but would not provide additional detail.

The audit follows a national CHOICE study that found renters "live in fear", unsure of their rights and how they can be enforced.