Complaints against real estate agents
Tenants often have to deal with a real estate agent (‘agent’). Agents represent the interests of landlords and act on their instructions. In most situations, if an agent breaches the Residential Tenancies Act 1999 (NT) or a term of the residential tenancy agreement, it is considered to be a breach by the landlord
Real estate agents and Principles of Conduct
Agents who are members of the Real Estate Institute of Northern Territory (‘REINT’) must comply with the Real Estate Institute of Australia’s (‘REIA’) Principles of Conduct. The REINT can tell you if your agent is a member.
The principles requires agents to:
- have a reasonable knowledge and act in accordance with relevant laws governing the real estate profession, including codes of conduct and the principles of conduct;
- act ethically, fairly and honestly when dealing with landlords and tenants;
- not share confidential or sensitive information obtained while acting on behalf of a client or dealing with a customer, except if required by law;
- attempt to prevent or resolve disputes with the aim of minimising the number of complaints made against them; and
- tell you the different ways you can make a complaint about agent misconduct. The REINT and the REIA do not have the power to investigate or take action against an agent where a breach of the Principles of Conduct has occurred.
Making a complaint to the real estate agency
If you want to complain about the behaviour of an agent, you can write a letter to the principal of the real estate agency. Your letter should include:
- your name and contact details;
- the name of the agent that is managing your tenancy;
- the address of the property you are renting;
- a clear summary of the complaint, including details of what happened and when; • any supporting evidence;
- what you want to achieve by complaining;
- the Principles of Conduct that have been breached (if relevant); and
- the date by which you are seeking a response to your complaint.
- Making a complaint to the Agents Licensing Board
Real estate agents in the Northern Territory must hold a licence to operate. As part of this licence, agents must comply with certain rules. An agent will be in breach of one of the rules if they fail to exercise due skill, care or diligence when dealing with any person in the course of conducting business as an agent.
If you believe an agent has breached this rule, you should try to resolve the issue by first making a complaint to the real estate agency. If you are unsuccessful, you can lodge an application for disciplinary action with the Agents Licensing Board.
Your application should be in writing and include the rule that you believe the agent has breached, details of the breach, and supporting evidence. You are encouraged to use the application for disciplinary action template available on the Agents Licensing Board page on the Northern Territory Department of Business website. The Agents Licensing Board cannot award compensation, but it can issue a caution or fine to an agent, or suspend or cancel a real estate agent licence.
Darwin Community Legal Service 2015: Non-profit community groups have permission to reproduce parts of this publication as long as the original meaning is retained and proper credit is given to DCLS, as the publisher.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this publication is a guide to the law in the Northern Territory. It is not a substitute for legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer about your particular legal issue. The information contained in this factsheet is current as at November 2014.
Darwin Community Legal Service
Phone: (08) 8982 1111
Freecall: 1800 812 953
Agents Licensing Board
Phone: (08) 8999 1307