Section 31 of the Property and Stock Agents Act 2002 (NSW), requires every business to have a nominated Licensee-In-Charge (LIC) of that business. These LICs have a legal obligation to ensure the proper supervision of their business and must ensure that no part of the business is left unsupervised.
To meet these requirements as detailed in the Act and also in the Supervision Guidelines issued by NSW Fair Trading, every business must have written procedures on how their agency will comply with the core requirements of the Supervision Guidelines.
One of the ten requirements in the Supervision Guidelines is that an agency must have written operational procedures specifically tailors for how that agency undertakes its business. The “Policy & Procedures Manual – proforma” will assist agencies in meeting this requirement.
NSW Fair Trading have focused on the aspect of agency supervision, as they have identified that poor supervision can cause distress and financial loss for consumers, which can lead to claims against an agent for negligence, misleading conduct and fraudulent use of trust money – for which substantial maximum penalties apply from NSW Fair Trading. As such, the Supervision Guidelines set out the requirements for proper supervision of a business, including the steps that an agency must take to prevent fraud, underquoting and misrepresentation. These requirements also include:
- supervision of employees engaged in the business,
- establishment of procedures designed to ensure that the provisions of the Act and Regulation and other relevant laws are complied with,
- monitoring employees’ conduct to ensure that those procedures are being followed, and
- a major document which addresses the core policies and procedures required for an agency
Because every business is different, and the policies and procedures of every business vary from a two person office, to a twenty-two person office to a fifty-two person office – it is not feasible to have an “off-the-shelf” product that will adequately meet the legislative requirements. As no single document can meet the specific requirements for all agencies, you will need to tailor these documents to meet the needs of your agency. To address this need in the property industry in New South Wales, the Australian College of Professionals has developed a set of proforma documents to assist LICs to tailor their procedures to meet the requirements.
There are two main sets of documents, which include:
In the main “Supervision Guidelines – Proforma” document and the “Policy & Procedures – Proforma” document, highlighted in red, are all areas that require your attention in order to tailor the documents for the specific needs of your agency. This makes it easy for you to identify where additional information about your agency is required. We suggest that as a matter of urgency you consider each of the areas contained in the documents and make the necessary amendments and inclusions. This should not be a long process and it is essential that you have these documents completed and shared with each of your team members as soon as possible.
Ensure that you comply with the NSW Fair Trading requirements. Compliance is a necessary aspect of operating a property agency. Whilst compliance can sometimes feel expensive… the cost of non-compliance through penalties being issued, is certainly a more daunting outcome.