Solving a problem with a real estate agency
Complaining to a real estate agency about their service can be daunting but it’s often straightforward. If you have a problem with an agent or with real estate services they’ve provided, try the options below before contacting Consumer and Business Services (CBS).
Speak to the business
Visit the business or speak to them on the phone and explain the problem. It can help to have any contracts, paperwork or receipts with you when you speak with them. Remember to keep a record of your contact and include:
- the name and job title of the person you spoke with
- the dates you contacted them
- what was discussed, including what they suggested.
Contact the business in writing
A complaint letter or email that clearly states the problem and any purchase information - eg copy of the receipt - can help the business understand what needs to be fixed. This is also a record of your contact with them.
Use our sample letter of complaint to a real estate agency to help you include all the information the business needs.
Advice and conciliation
If you haven’t been able to solve your problem, Consumer and Business Services (CBS) can act as a neutral third party, offering advice and information that can help you reach an agreement. CBS can help if:
- your claim isn't currently being heard in court
- the work was done in South Australia
- products or services were advertised or bought in South Australia
- the work or products were for personal use.
You will need to show that you have tried to contact the business - eg a copy of a letter describing the problem, diary entries that show dates and times.
Email, phone or visit CBS to ask for advice - Contact CBS.
If you email, select consumer advice from the subject list and check that you have included:
- your full name and phone number
- the business’s name and location
- a description of the problem.
Working with CBS to solve a problem
You can also request that CBS get involved with your negotiations. These requests are not accepted via email; please phone 131 882, extension 5. CBS will contact you to let you know when your request has been accepted. Your case officer will then:
- gather information and record all the facts
- provide information
- work out if a report from an expert is needed
- offer advice.
You may be asked to:
- write another letter to the business
- arrange inspections
- contact other organisations
- obtain and pay for reports from experts.
The business needs to be willing, but most problems can be solved through these discussions. CBS doesn't provide legal advice. If the problem isn't solved through these discussions, any information or advice you receive from CBS can be helpful if you decide to go to court.
All information collected by CBS during an investigation is kept private. It isn't available under the Freedom of Information Act. However, during negotiations, the business may need to be aware of certain things. Please tell your case officer about any information you don't want the business to see.
Special needs and concerns
Talk to your case officer if you have specific needs or concerns. CBS can adjust the way they do things to help people who:
- are older
- are living with a disability
- have mental health concerns
- are more comfortable speaking in a language other than English.
Compulsory conciliation conferences
CBS can require a trader to participate in a compulsory conciliation conference to try to solve the problem rather than going to court. CBS will decide how the conference takes place - eg telephone, video conferencing - and will consider the following before calling this meeting:
- the number of complaints against a business
- how the trader handles customer complaints
- any legal issues.
The business and you must attend the meeting. If there is a good reason for cancelling, another date can usually be arranged. Businesses can be fined up to $10,000 if they don't have a reasonable excuse for not attending.
If the business and you agree to a solution, it will be:
- signed by you, the trader and the commissioner
- copied - you and the trader will be given a copy.
All parties need to obey the terms of the agreement. If this doesn't happen, you or the commissioner can apply to the Magistrates Court to enforce it.
Taking action through the court
If the business and you can’t agree on a solution, you can take action through the court. Your case officer can explain your options to you.
Civil claims aren't as difficult as some court actions but it can still be stressful and take up your time. Getting independent legal advice before lodging a claim can help you make these decisions.
Civil Claims, on the Courts Administration Authority website, guides you through each step of formal legal action.
Reporting a business
If you are concerned that a business is acting unethically or they aren’t licensed, you can report a business on 131 882, extension 6, and CBS will investigate without involving you. This reporting line is open Monday to Friday, between 9.00 am and 5.00 pm (except public holidays).