How to lodge a complaint against an estate agent

Private Property South Africa
Cathy Nolan

As with all business relationships, miscommunication between agents, buyers and sellers can happen. Most often, these little issues can be resolved after a quick, explanatory chat. But, if you as a buyer or seller are still not happy with the situation, approaching your agent’s principle is your logical next step.

Thereafter, the Estate Agency Affairs Board can offer advice, assistance and mediation. Obviously, ironing out the situation without having to go through mediation is first prize. However, if this is not the case, the board may recommend that you lodge a formal complaint – especially if the matter is a breach of the Estate Agency Affairs Act.

The body’s compliance officers are not able to give legal advice and it cannot grant civil redress or relief as this is a function of the court of law that has jurisdiction. The board will tell you if your complaint is civil in nature and requires legal, rather than disciplinary, action.

Your charge must:

  • Be in writing.

  • Contain details of the alleged misconduct.

  • Be delivered by hand or registered post.

The Estate Agency Affairs Board will:

  • Acknowledge receipt of the complaint.

  • Notify the respondent and provide a written response within 30 days.

  • Investigate and consider the matter before investigating further, or withdrawing or mediating the charge.

The Disciplinary Committee of Inquiry will:

  • Summons and subpoena the relevant parties.

  • Ensure that its chairperson and two committee members conduct the proceedings.

  • Hear both sides of the matter.

  • Allow legal representation.

  • Impose a fine of up to a maximum of R25 000 per contravention and withdraw an agent’s Fidelity Fund Certificate, in the event of a “guilty” verdict.

  • Award up to 80 percent of this fine to claimants who have suffered financial loss.

The appeals procedure:

  • Must be in writing and submitted within 30 days of the first hearing.

  • Requires a deposit of R1 000 for the transcript.

  • Will take congnisance of the disciplinary committee’s reasons for its judgment.

The appeals board may:

  • Confirm, amend or reverse the committee’s decision.

  • Remit the matter for further hearing.

  • Confirm or suspend the imposed penalty.

  • Set aside the committee’s penalty and impose a new penalty.

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Estate Agents

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