Resolving issues early

The examples in this article show how working with a REAA facilitator can give both parties an opportunity to work through their differences to reach a mutually agreeable resolution.

The examples in this article show how working with a REAA facilitator can give both parties an opportunity to work through their differences to reach a mutually agreeable resolution. 

Before we can work with a complainant and licensee through the early resolution process, two criteria must be satisfied.

1. The complaint must be suitable for early resolution
Our early resolution team assesses every complaint. Complaints suitable for early resolution are generally of a less serious nature and could be resolved through better communication and discussion between the parties and don’t raise matters of public concern. More serious complaints that involve issues of professional conduct, ongoing behaviour or relate to industry practice that needs to be clarified are still referred to a Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC).

2. The parties must agree to the process
Every person who makes a complaint to REAA has the right to have their concerns considered by a CAC. If our early resolution team thinks a complaint is suitable for early resolution, they will discuss this with the parties.  

More agencies are choosing to engage in the early resolution process, and REAA’s early resolution team is seeing increasingly creative resolutions that are speeding up the process for the industry, and reducing the volume of complaints going to the CAC.

Here are some recent examples of complaints resolved through the early resolution process. All names and locations have been removed. 
   
Mr A, a prospective buyer was interested in a property. The licensee told him there were no other potential offers coming in, so Mr A travelled to the property to view it and incurred due diligence costs. The property was then sold to another buyer and Mr A felt he was not given the opportunity to submit his best offer. 

REAA facilitated a discussion between the parties about what had happened. After understanding the impact the licensee’s statement had had on Mr A, the agency offered:
  • an apology for their part in the confusion over the process, 
  • ​an acknowledgment that they made a mistake
  • a financial contribution in good faith to Mr A, to acknowledge the inconvenience and costs he incurred.
The parties agreed to the proposed resolution.

A licensee was appraising a property for Mrs B, a prospective seller based overseas. The licensee approached the local council for information about the property, which resulted in the council conducting an inspection of the property. Mrs B believed the licensee should have notified her about any issues with the property and sought her authority before approaching the council. 

The eligible officer (EO) suggested the licensee may not have fully understood their obligations to the vendor and requested a conversation between the EO, the licensee and REAA’s facilitator. As a result of the conversation, the licensee appeared to better understand their obligations. Mrs B was satisfied with this approach.

A complainant and a licensee had a difference of opinion around whether interest was due on a deposit payment that sat in the agency’s trust account for around 15 months before title was issued.  The complainant lodged a complaint with the agency, but was not happy with the delay in receiving a response from the agency, or the tone of the response. He felt his issues had not been addressed by the agency.

The complainant made a complaint to REAA. As a result, the agency put significant effort into addressing the complainant’s issues, including a review of their own complaints processes. They directly addressed the complainant’s concerns, and the complaint was resolved.

The early resolution team is impressed with the way complaints are being addressed by agencies. Sometimes we hear of barriers to resolving matters such as concerns raised by insurance companies. We would be interested to learn more about any barriers you encounter and hear about your experiences dealing with complaints in house or through REAA. 

If a REAA facilitator contacts you about a complaint, we encourage you to read the five tips on resolving complaint​s​.

Please contact Sarah Ramsay, Early Resolution Team Leader on 04 471 8940 or sarah.ramsay@reaa.govt.nz with your experiences or questions.