Official report calls for more agent monitoring

An auditor-general’s report has found that Western Australia’s real estate industry needs greater police oversight, although the system is generally sound.

The report concluded that the Department of Commerce, which regulates the industry, has suitable arrangements in place to ensure only reputable people are licensed as agents.

It also concluded that “the risk of direct financial loss to consumers remains low”.

However, the report also found that it is impossible to guarantee that agents will continue to be of good character during the three years their licence is valid.

The Department of Commerce has agreed to investigate forming an agreement with the police to monitor and identify agents charged or convicted of certain types of offences.

The department also noted that while most agents are only required to receive police clearance every three years, there are other ways to keep an eye on agents.

“[If] the background of an applicant suggests a risk of re-offending, a licence is granted with a condition that the licensee must submit a National Police Certificate every 12 months,” it said.

“In addition, monitoring of media, complaint data, information from the contact centre, proactive compliance activities, the audit program and industry liaison all provide intelligence about licensees which is followed up.”

The auditor-general’s report also recommended that the Department of Commerce processes complaints about agents more quickly.

Nearly 80 per cent of complaints from the public, the industry and the department’s monitoring activities were resolved within the target timeline of six months, the report said.

“However, of the investigations that took longer than six months to complete, 90 per cent were categorised as not complex and a breach was not found. Delays can cause unnecessary stress to agents and their business,” it said.

The department acknowledged the need to improve its complaint processing, although it added that some complex matters would always take longer to resolve.

[Related: WA cracks down on agents behaving badly]

promoted stories

REB Events