Alert on Housing Property Agents

The NSW Aboriginal Land Council (NSWALC) would like to remind all Local Aboriginal Land Councils (LALCs) to exercise due diligence when entering into any agency agreement (contract) with a third party to provide property management services in connection with housing provided to LALC members.

In the past several LALCs have suffered serious loss and damage as a result of unscrupulous or unlicensed property management agents.

LALCs should note that all persons or companies that provide property management services must be registered with the NSW Office of Fair Trading (OFT) or the Aboriginal Housing Office (AHO).

Any LALCs that are approached by third parties with offers of property management services should always exercise diligence and caution before signing any contracts.

NSWALC recommends that LALCs should not sign a contract with any person or company for property management services unless they have checked with the OFT or AHO that the person or company is appropriately registered and they have obtained their own independent advice.

In particular, NSWALC has been advised by the OFT and the AHO that a company trading as Gomilaroi Housing or Gomilaroi Building & Construction that has been offering property management services to LALCs was not, as at 21 April 2010, registered under either name with the OFT or the AHO. As such these companies were not, as far as NSWALC is aware, then licensed to provide property management services to LALCs.

NSWALC also reminds LALCs that the appointment of a property management agent over LALC land and housing requires the approval of LALC members pursuant to section 52G of the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1983 (the Act).

Additionally, a LALC cannot delegate to any person or body the use, management or control of land vested in or acquired by the LALC (see section 52E of the Act). This means that when appointing a property management agent over LALC land, it is very important that the LALC retains control over the management and use of that land or it may be in breach of the Act.

NSWALC recommends that LALCs always obtain their own independent legal advice before signing any agreement or contract (whether they are housing contracts or other types of contracts or agreements).

Geoff Scott
Chief Executive Officer