We refer to Ms Patricia Lee's forum letter "Council too slow to act against errant agent" (30 Sep 2013).
The Council for Estate Agencies (CEA) handles about 1,000 complaint cases a year. In each case, there is a need to observe a proper and due process to ensure a fair and impartial investigation of the matter. On receipt of a complaint of wrongdoing, CEA directs the estate agent to address the substance of the complaint against its salesperson by stopping any observable misconduct or wrong-doing and to account and verify the pertinent facts and submit a formal report to CEA.
On receipt of the report, CEA including its legal department, will have to evaluate to see if there is any breach of the law. And where necessary, CEA may conduct its own checks and investigation to gather more facts before assessing whether the case warrants further action. CEA may then initiate appropriate disciplinary action against the salesperson if the complaint is serious and substantiated. A full investigation and evaluation of a case may require between four to nine months to complete depending for instance whether the facts are contested. For more straightforward complaints, the time taken to conclude a case is much shorter.
In the case of Ms Lee's complaint, our customer service officer had given her the timeline based on a full investigation of the case. Following inquiries into the case, we note that the estate agent had rectified the issue as the advertisement by the salesperson was removed after the complaint was lodged with CEA. Nevertheless, we are continuing our investigations to assess and establish if there was any misconduct committed on the part of the salesperson in breach of the rules or law. CEA will be getting in touch with Ms Lee to update her on her case as soon as we complete our investigation.
Yeap Soon Teck
Deputy Director (Licensing)
Council for Estate Agencies