The High Court has permanently banned a man from applying for a licence to act as a property letting agent.
The ban, under the Property Services Regulation Act 2011, was imposed after a finding of improper conduct was made relating to alleged misappropriation of €60,000 from a client account over a period of twelve months.
On Monday, High Court president, Ms Justice Mary Irvine, confirmed the decision of the Property Services Regulatory Authority (PRSA) that letting agent Richard Power, Tudor Lawns, Leopardstown Road, Foxrock, Dublin be permanently prohibited from applying for a new licence and requiring him to pay a €5,000 financial penalty in respect of improper conduct.
The judge said she agreed with the reasoning put forward by the PRSA that the mistrust inherent in the misappropriation of client’s funds was on the serious end of the scale of improper conduct.
“It is necessary that the public confidence and safety are upheld and protected in circumstances where the position of trust creates an imbalance of power between the professional and the unwitting person who hands over their money in good faith,” the judge added.
She noted that Mr Power’s employer at the time, Wyse Property Management Ltd, was not aware of, or involved in, the improper conduct and it had acted immediately when made aware of it.
The court heard Mr Power’s previous property services licence, which permitted him to act as a letting agent for land and buildings, expired in January 2021. The court also heard that €10,000 had already been paid back by Mr Power.
Giving the background to the case, the judge said, following a complaint by Wyse Property Management Ltd that Mr Power had allegedly fraudulently misappropriated €60,000 from its client account over a period of twelve months, an inspector was appointed to investigate the alleged improper conduct.
The investigator, the judge said, was satisfied Mr Power had been guilty of improper conduct and had acted in a way which rendered him no longer a fit and proper person to provide property service or a particular class of property service.
On April 19th 2021, the PRSA, after considering the inspector’s report, made a finding of improper conduct against Mr Power. It considered factors including the conduct was repeated over a lengthy period of time, was premeditated and was uncovered by his employer .