An estate agent who produced bogus invoices to justify claims against a tenant she alleged had damaged rental properties has been barred from the real estate industry for seven years.
Teresa Schouten – who had held an agency licence for 18 years “and should know better” – was caught out lying when the tenant appealed a $1.1k compensation order the agent had obtained from Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) in September 2013.
Anelis Hall – who needed the assistance of Queensland Police to unearth her evidence – proved a cleaning company did not issue the invoice Schouten produced and that replacement curtains purchased from Spotlight were returned for a full refund.
QCAT reversed its earlier order for compensation in favour of the Westlake agency and disciplinary proceedings commenced.
Not only had the agent produced false invoices but she had lied to the tribunal under oath.
QCAT member Bevan Hughes ruled that her conduct “undermined the integrity of the industry and the confidence of the community”.
Her absence of remorse and lack of cooperation were also relevant factors in deciding the period of disqualification that would apply.
A total fine of $10k was imposed as well as the seven-year ban.
Ms Schouten successfully appealed this decision in July 2016 to have the fine reduced to $3,300 and period of the ban halved to 3.5 years, because of errors made in the first hearing. She had not failed to cooperate and the magnitude of her errant conduct was not as great as had been first alleged.