The Real Estate Agents Act 2008 came into force on 17 November 2009, replacing the 1976 Act and introducing a new regulatory regime. The Act’s purpose is to promote and protect consumers’ interests and “promote public confidence in the performance of real estate agency work”. Some of the important changes under the new Act are outlined below.
Real Estate Agents Authority
A Real Estate Agents Authority (“Authority”) has been established as an independent Crown entity to replace the Real Estate Agents Licensing Board. It will be responsible for such matters as licensing, receiving complaints, disciplinary action, regulating standards, and consumer information.
The Associate Minister of Justice Hon. Nathan Guy has stated that the public will now be able to access the Authority to gain impartial and easy to understand information and that the Authority will provide a robust, transparent complaints and disciplinary process.
Every person engaged in real estate agency work must apply for a license on a yearly basis. There will be a public register of licensees that will record whether the licensee has been disciplined in the last three years. This will allow consumers to make informed choices when choosing an agent.
Code of Conduct
The Authority will establish a Code of Conduct that will set minimum standards of behaviour by which all licensees must abide.
New Compliants & Disciplinary Process
The Authority will establish Complaints Assessment Committees, as required, to more effectively deal with complaints and investigate allegations about licensees. Each committee will have three members and will investigate complaints, make determinations about complaints, promote resolution of complaints, lay and prosecute charges before the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, refer complaints to other agencies where appropriate, as well as inform complainants about decisions and publish decisions.
Real Estate Agent's Disciplinary Tribunal
The Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (the “Tribunal”) has been established, and is independent of the Real Estate Institute with members being appointed by the Minister. The Tribunal will hear and determine claims brought by a Complaints Assessment Committee and will hear any subsequent appeals against the Committee’s decisions. The hearings are to be held in public and appeals of Tribunal decisions will be heard in the High Court. The Tribunal may:
- Suspend or cancel a license
- Impose a fine of up to $15,000 in the case of an individual or up to $30,000 in the case of a company
- Order agents to pay compensation of up to $100,000 or have their license cancelled or suspended.
Real Estate Agents are now required to provide certain information to clients such as disclosing conflicts of interest, and making disclosure of all discounts and rebates the agent will receive. Agents must provide an approved guide to clients who are entering into agency agreements or agreements for sale and purchase. The guide will provide a plain language explanation of the document and the implications of signing it.
Clients must be given a copy of an agency agreement within 48 hours of signing. In the case of a sole agency agreement the client will now have a cooling-off period, until 5pm of the day following signing, to elect to cancel the agreement.
Copyright © Cavell Leitch. All rights reserved. Redistribution is only permitted with express written permission. For enquiries please contact us. This article by its nature cannot be comprehensive and cannot be relied on by clients as advice. It is provided to assist clients to identify legal issues on which they should seek legal advice. Please consult the professional staff of Cavell Leitch for advice specific to your situation.