Why do Governments make laws and then not enforce them? Why do Governments say they are making change when they do nothing to affect change?
It is a well-considered and well known fact that, unless it is enforced, people will not abide by the rules. Remember when we where kids! Did we ever abide by mum and dad’s rules if we knew we could not be caught or were not going to be punished if we were caught? Of course not, if it was fun and we got some benefit out of it, we would do it because there were no negative consequences to our action.
It is well proven that, Governments who enforce the law have a better chance of creating change. Service NSW, formerly the Office of Fair Trading has introduced a number of reforms on 23 March 2020 to make a more effective real estate industry. We have said before that, reforms have no benefit unless they are enforced. In fact, we have said publicly that more investigators with more powers would have a better outcome.
Why have we been so sceptical regarding the reforms? Because Fair Trading have not taken action against those in the past who have committed major breaches.
Without mentioning any names, we will refer you to two cases.
- Fair Trading were provided with a transcript of a Court proceeding in 2016. In this court transcript, a real estate agent told the court that they had used deposits to pay for the marketing of their own development. In other words, without the authority of the purchasers, they had taken money from their trust account to promote a development which they owned in another company.Fair Trading was also provided with the audit reports and the contracts of each and every person to prove that it was done without authority.Now in 2020, and no action has been taken against this person. Fair Trading was requested by Leverage to intervene prior to the Court by appointing a receiver to audit the trust account. Fair Trading chose not to get involved and has not done anything since.
Good News, that agent has gone on to run another business and undertake a similar scam that impacted on consumers. How many times will this individual have to harm somebody before something is done by the department?
- Last Christmas, we had a Vendor who made a complaint to Fair Trading regarding the actions of an Agent. These actions were that, the agent had completed a contract without the Vendors approval and exchanged it.Effectively, the Agent had exchanged the Contract not only without authority but without the Vendor even knowing what was completed on the Contract. The Vendor contacted Fair Trading and their response was “get yourself a good Solicitor!”. Well they did, and we were able to get them out of the Contract which they hadn’t agreed to enter into.What has Fair Trading done about that trader? Nothing!
The industry cannot improve if the regulator only picks on those who commit technical errors. Resourcing is a difficulty for all Government Departments, but this is not an excuse for allowing crooks to prosper. In both the cases I’ve mentioned, we have only mentioned a couple of the things these people have done.
This raises the question, why should any of us abide by the law if the Government is not going to create a level playing field against those who won’t?