The new Real Estate Agents Authority (REAA) has already received over 320 complaints in its first five months of operation.
The authority, launched in November last year, has received over 17,000 telephone and email enquiries and over 320 written complaints and allegations from both licensees and consumers.
The REAA was set up under the Real Estate Agents Act 2008 to license industry members and provide an independent and transparent complaints process.
"The large number of complaints received since implementation of the new act is significant and highlights there was a need for this new legislation with its consumer protection focus," authority board chair Kristy McDonald says.
The complaints range from minor through to serious and most are now in various stages of inquiry and assessment by Complaint Assessment Committees (CAC), autonomous groups established to uphold independent and transparent assessment.
"All complaints are required to go through the complaints procedure and given the newness of the legislation, this process takes time to ensure all are thoroughly investigated," McDonald says.
Out of the 320 written complaints lodged with the authority so far, the CACs have dismissed 10 cases at the first reading, after establishing there were no grounds for the complaint to be upheld or the complaints were merely vexatious. Eight have also been dismissed after being referred back to the CACs for a second time after thorough investigation by the REAA.
Dan Ormond, REAA communications and media manager, says because the regime is still relatively new, there is no average time for complaints to be processed and the authority did not have examples of the types of cases that were currently under investigation.
The one case the REAA has published, on March 22, relates to unsatisfactory conduct by an agent in sending a condolence card to a recent widow, along with business card and details of the property.
The REAA says it is planning on publishing more cases over the next couple of weeks in the hopes they will better educate both industry participants and consumers on the complaints processes and possible outcomes.