Reporting other licensees’ conduct to the REA
It can be a difficult decision to tell REA about some behaviour you’ve seen in the industry that’s not up to scratch. It might be that, during a conjunctional sale, you saw some behaviour that wasn’t in the vendor’s best interests. Or maybe while in the kitchen at your office, you overheard your colleague on the phone giving a developer the inside scoop on properties coming up on the market. When something like this happens, it's important that you’re aware of what you can and must to do about it.
What is a report?
Rules 7.1 and 7.2 say you can tell REA about behaviour that might be unsatisfactory conduct, and you must tell REA about behaviour that might be misconduct. A report is simply you telling us about what you’ve seen or experienced, thereby fulfilling your obligations under these rules.
An important part of fulfilling your obligations is to tell us who you are when you call. If we don’t know who you are, we can’t confirm you’ve fulfilled your obligations.
We suggest you call us on 0800 367 732 and speak to one of our facilitators about your concerns. They’ll give you information about whether the behaviour you’re concerned about is likely to be a breach of the rules. They can take your report verbally over the phone, or they may ask you to put your report in writing or to provide documents if possible. They will also talk to you about whether you’re comfortable having your name attached to your report.
What’s the difference between a complaint and a report?
Licensees can also make complaints about other licensees, and this may be the most appropriate option if you were directly affected by what happened (e.g. you were the buyer of the property). As the complainant, you will be involved in the complaint process and be asked for your input and responses. You will be informed of, and involved in, the outcome of the complaint.
If you weren’t directly affected, it may be more appropriate for you to make a report. For example, if you were the conjuncting agent and it is your buyer who has been affected. As the reporter, you will not have any input into the outcome and will not have the right to any information shared during the process (including the outcome). Your role is similar to that of a witness.
What happens to reports?
When REA receives a report, we will first look at whether the reporter has given us permission to tell the respondent who made the report.
If we don’t have permission to tell the respondent, we will weigh up a few factors when deciding to progress with the report. This includes whether the reporter is identifiable and the nature of the behaviour reported. This balancing exercise is so we can protect the interests of the reporter as much as is possible while still holding people to account.
If we do have permission or we can find other information that means it’s not easy to guess where the report comes from then we may decide that the report:
- raises no disciplinary issues and take no action
- raises minor conduct issues and issue compliance advice
- raises questions about the wider agency or licensee practice and visit the respondent and their manager in person
- raises serious disciplinary issues, and refer the report to a Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC).
What types of conduct should I report?
We strongly encourage agencies to forge relationships with each other, so they can raise and resolve minor issues between themselves. An example is a local licensee sending a market update that doesn’t clearly state that the properties in their market update were sold by a different agency. This is the type of issue we would expect managers and principal officers to be able to discuss with each other and resolve between them.
Issues that look more serious are the types of issues that you should — and in some cases must — report, for example, non-disclosure problems, fraud or trust account issues. If you’re not sure, you could check our decisions database to see whether a CAC has found similar behaviour reaches the threshold of unsatisfactory conduct. You can also call us, in confidence, to discuss your concerns, and we can provide guidance on the level of concern around the issue.
What happens if I don’t make a report?
There can be serious consequences of not making a report. Recently, two licensees were found guilty of misconduct, for failing to report serious trust account irregularities to REA.
You can find more information about your obligations to report on our website, including further examples of the types of conduct you can or must report.