All agencies must have a documented process for handling complaints which should provide the quickest way to resolve any concerns at this initial level. Should this not be possible, the issue may be filed directly to the Real Estate Agents Authority siting grounds for complaint under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008.
Complaints can be delivered personally, fax, post or e-mailed directly to the REAA. Contact details are:
Real Estate Agents Authority
P.O. Box 25371 – Wellington 6146
Level 2, 10 Brandon Street – Wellington
Ph: 0800 367 7322 – Fax: 04 815 8468
For information on making a formal complaint to the REAA, click here
To file a formal complaint to the REAA on the correct form, click here
To view our In-House Complaints and Disputes Resolution Procedures, click here
The Complaint’s Process
Should any resolve at the agency level not be achievable, the complaint may then be filed with the REAA where it may be declined, referred to an Early Resolutions Facilitator, or the Complaints Assessment Committee. These Committees will have three members; one will be drawn from the Board, one will be a real estate agent and one member must be a lawyer with no less than seven years’ experience.
All associated parties will be advised on documents received and the progress of the process every step of the way. The Committee will consider the complaint as soon as possible and may decide to take no action if it considers the licensee complained about did nothing wrong or the complaint is inconsequential or was not made in good faith. If the Committee thinks the complaint would be better handled by another agency it can refer the complaint to that agency. If the Committee decides to inquire further into the complaint, it can require the licensee complained about to appear before it to give an explanation. If necessary the Committee can also request any other party to provide further information to enable it to carry out its inquiry.
The Committee will usually just consider the information that it has received and make a decision based on that. One outcome may be that the Committee asks that both parties make use of an alternative dispute resolution process (for example, mediation or negotiation) and report back to the Committee, if it thinks this method is likely to resolve the dispute. If the Committee finds that the conduct of the licensee complained about falls short of what would usually be expected, is unacceptable, incompetent or negligent, or breaches the 2008 Act, regulations or rules (unsatisfactory conduct), it can make one or more of a number of orders including:
- censuring the licensee.
- requiring that the licensee apologises.
- requiring the licensee to undergo further training or education.
- ordering the licensee to reduce, cancel of refund fees or fix an error or omission.
- fining the licensee up to $10,000 if an individual or $20,000 if a company.
- ordering the licensee to pay costs to the complainant.
If the Committee considers that the conduct is disgraceful, seriously incompetent or seriously negligent, or is a wilful or reckless breach of the 2008 Act, regulations or rules (misconduct), it can refer your complaint to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal.
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal is an independent body that is administered by the Ministry of Justice. The Disciplinary Tribunal is separate to the Real Estate Agents Authority and will consider any charges laid before it by the Committee. It will also hear appeals about decisions on complaints made by the Committee and on application, can review decisions of the Registrar. The Disciplinary Tribunal can impose greater penalties than the Complaints Assessment Committee, these penalties include:
- cancelling or suspending the licensee’s licence.
- ordering the licensee’s employment to be terminated and order that no agent employ or engage that licensee in connection with any real estate agency work.
- requiring the licensee to pay a fine of up to $15,000 for an individual, and up to $30,000 if the licensee is a company.
- ordering the licensee to pay compensation for actual loss of up to $100,000 to the complainant.
Cause For Concern
A licensee may be found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct if they carry out real estate work that:
- falls short of the standard that a reasonable member of the public is entitled to expect from a reasonably competent licensee; or
- contravenes a provision of the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 Act or of any regulations or rules made under the Act; or
- is incompetent or negligent; or
- would reasonably be regarded by agents of good standing as being unacceptable.
A licensee may be found guilty of misconduct if their conduct:
- would reasonably be regarded by agents of good standing, or reasonable members of the public, as disgraceful; or
- constitutes seriously incompetent or seriously negligent real estate agency work; or
- consists of a wilful or reckless contravention of
- the Real Estate Agents Act 2008; or
- other Acts that apply to the conduct of licensees; or
- regulations or rules made under the Act; or
- constitutes an offence for which the licensee has been convicted, being an offence that reflects adversely on the licensee’s fitness to be a licensee