When you make a complaint to us about a real estate agent we assess whether your complaint falls within our area of responsibility and what the best way to deal with your complaint is.
If we can't help you
If we can’t resolve your complaint because it is not within our authority to do so, we will explain the reasons and if possible refer you to another organisation.
If it is an issue we can help with
We will work with you to identify the best way of dealing with your complaint. Depending on what your complaint is about we might suggest compliance advice, mediation or sending your complaint to a Complaints Assessment Committee.
The length of time it will take to resolve your complaint will depend on its seriousness and complexity.
Compliance advice may be the best way to deal with your complaint if little or no detriment has resulted from the behaviour, the behaviour is not ongoing, the agent has no history of compliance problems, and no wider public interest issues arise from the behaviour.
Compliance advice involves sending the agent a compliance advice letter that lets them know that an issue has been raised. The letter tells them where they went wrong, what they need to do to comply with the Act and the Code of Conduct and that if they repeat the behaviour they are likely to face more serious consequences.
We will send you and the agent's employer a copy of this letter.
How long will this take?
We aim to send the compliance advice letter within 2-3 weeks of receiving your complaint.
Mediation may be suggested when the complaint does not involve issues of wider public interest and is about something that could be resolved between you and the agent. Mediation will only happen if both you and the agent agree to it.
There are two types of mediation:
- REAA facilitation
- External mediation
Lower level and less complex issues are referred to our in-house facilitation team who assist the complainant and licensee to resolve the complaint. This is done over the phone.
How long will REAA facilitation take?
We aim to have the complaint resolved through REAA facilitation within 2-4 weeks.
Higher level and more complex matters may be referred to external mediators.
Mediation is a process where you and the agent, with the assistance of an independent mediator, identify the issues, develop options, and consider alternatives to reach an agreement.
We arrange and pay for the mediation. There is no cost to you or the agent involved.
If no agreement is reached at mediation, we will have another look at the complaint and consider the best way to proceed.
How long will external mediation take?
We aim to have the complaint resolved through external mediation within 5-6 weeks.
Complaints Assessment Committee
More serious complaints are referred to a Complaints Assessment Committee
. More serious complaints are ones where there appears to be a breach of the law or the relevant rules, if the agent has previously behaved in a similar way, or there is a wider public interest in the behaviour being fully investigated.
If we refer your complaint to a Complaints Assessment Committee
We will advise you and the agent in writing, usually within 10 working days of receiving the complaint. We may do some additional fact finding to provide the Complaints Assessment Committee with further information about the matters relating to the complaint.
The Complaints Assessment Committee will meet to consider the complaint and decide whether to investigate (inquire) further. This is usually within 20 working days of receiving the complaint but may be longer depending on whether any other information is required.
If the Complaints Assessment Committee decides not to inquire then the complaint will be dismissed.
If the Complaints Assessment Committee decide to inquire further, an investigation will usually be carried out by our investigators. The Complaints Assessment Committee will then meet again to consider the information gathered in the investigation.
The Complaints Assessment Committee can reach one of three decisions
No further action
The Complaints Assessment Committee considers all the information and decides that the agent did nothing wrong i.e. they did not breach the standards set out in the Code of Professional Conduct and Client Care or their legislative requirements, or that given all the circumstances of the case, further action is unnecessary or inappropriate.
The Complaints Assessment Committee considers all the information and decides that the agent is guilty of unsatisfactory conduct.
A finding of unsatisfactory conduct means that the agent has carried out real estate agency work that:
- Falls short of the standard that is expected of a competent licensee
- Contravenes a provision of the Act
- Is incompetent or negligent
- Would reasonably be regarded as unacceptable by agents of good standing.
They will then make one or more of a number of orders. The orders range from censuring or reprimanding the agent, requiring them to apologise, requiring them to do training, ordering them to reduce, cancel of refund fees through to fining them up to $10,000 if an individual or $20,000 if a company.
Refer to Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal
Misconduct is when an agent’s behaviour
- Constitutes seriously incompetent or seriously negligent real estate agency work
- Would reasonably be regarded as disgraceful by agents of good standing or reasonable members of the public
- Has resulted in a conviction that reflects adversely on their fitness to be a licensee
- Wilfully or recklessly contravenes the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 or other Acts that apply to the conduct of licensees.
The Tribunal will consider all the evidence and may decide to take no further action, find the agent guilty of unsatisfactory conduct, or guilty of misconduct.
How long will it take to resolve my complaint if it goes to a Complaints Assessment Committee?
The length of time to resolve your complaint depends on:
- The nature and complexity of your complaint
- The actions already taken to resolve it
- The time each party takes to respond to our enquiries.
Some complaints can take only a matter of weeks to resolve, others can take several months. If we need to involve other individuals or organisations to investigate and resolve your complaint, it may take longer. If your complaint ends up with a charge of misconduct being laid with the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, then resolution may take a year or more.
We aim to resolve complaints within 23 weeks of receiving them. Very complex cases can take this long, or even longer, due to the amount of investigative work required and the Complaints Assessment Committee having to meet more than once before making a decision.
You can appeal the Complaints Assessment Committee decision
If you are not happy with the Complaints Assessment Committee’s decision you can appeal it to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal. The Tribunal will then rehear the complaint.
Decisions are recorded in the public register
Decisions, including those of no further action are also published in our decisions database
We do not publish decisions until the appeal period of 20 working days has ended.