home had been burgled

PHOTO: Julie Anne Brake’s residence experienced two burglaries in the months leading up to its listing for sale. Image by rawpixel.com

Vishal and Monisha Sharma had sought $40,000 in compensation from a real estate agent who failed to disclose that her home had been burgled twice in the months before it was listed for sale. The Sharmas’ appeal has been denied.

The property, previously owned by Julie Anne Brake and her husband, experienced two burglaries in August 2018. It was later listed for sale by Success Realty Ltd, trading as Bayleys Rotorua, with Brake as an agent, although she wasn’t the listing agent for the property.

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The Sharmas viewed the property on January 19, 2019, signed a conditional sale and purchase agreement on January 25 for $540,000, and completed the purchase on March 29.

Six weeks after the settlement, an attempted break-in occurred on May 12 while one of the Sharmas and their son were at home. They reported their concerns to the Real Estate Agents Authority, claiming they had asked Brake about the property’s safety during the viewing. Brake stated that it was safe and that her family had never encountered any issues.

The authority’s complaints assessment committee partially upheld the complaint, finding Brake’s conduct unsatisfactory for failing to disclose the burglaries or clarify that she was the property owner. Penalties were issued in March 2020, with Brake receiving censure, a $1000 fine for each breach, and an order to pay the Sharmas’ legal costs of $1395.

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The Sharmas sought $40,000 to cover expenses related to securing the property, including the installation of cameras, fences, and acquiring a dog. However, the committee ruled that these costs did not directly result from Brake’s misconduct and dismissed the claim.

Although an initial appeal by the Sharmas was rejected by the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, they continued to pursue the case. In a recent decision, the tribunal acknowledged the protracted procedural history of the matter.

The Sharmas argued that they had been persistently seeking justice for four years without the financial means for legal representation. They emphasized the emotional trauma their family experienced due to safety concerns, claiming that the tribunal did not recognize their commitment to securing their home.

Brake’s lawyers contended that the committee’s penalties were appropriate for low-level breaches and objected to the $1395 costs, considering the appeal unsuccessful.

The tribunal panel concurred with the committee’s initial finding that the Sharmas might have suffered a claimable loss but had not provided any evidence to support it. Their claim for compensation failed due to a lack of valuation evidence.

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The tribunal concluded that the expenses incurred by the Sharmas did not directly result from Brake’s unsatisfactory conduct, as they stemmed from the attempted burglary after the purchasers took possession rather than the failure to disclose the earlier burglaries.

The Sharmas’ appeal was dismissed, and Brake’s challenge against paying costs of $1395 was also rejected.