Licensees reporting potential misconduct
The Real Estate Agents Act (Professional Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2012 require licensees to report potential misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct to REA.
This page explains your obligations as a licensee to make a report, how to make one and what to expect when you do.
Your obligation to make a report
As a licensee, you need to submit a report to REA if you have reasonable grounds to suspect another licensee has been guilty of misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct. Reporting misconduct or unsatisfactory conduct will help us collectively raise industry standards and professionalism.
Your obligation to make a report around the conduct of another licensee is set out in the Real Estate Agents Act (Professional Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2012:
7.1 — A licensee who has reasonable grounds to suspect that another licensee has been guilty of unsatisfactory conduct may make a report to the Authority.
7.2 — A licensee who has reasonable grounds to suspect that another licensee has been guilty of misconduct must make a report to the Authority.
Your obligation to report applies regardless of whether you witnessed the conduct first hand or became aware of what took place.
Learn more about the Code of Conduct here.
Identifying misconduct and unsatisfactory conduct
It’s important that you can identify behaviour that might be unsatisfactory conduct or misconduct, but you don’t need to decide which category it falls in.
It is also useful to know when a situation is out of scope for REA.
What does misconduct look like?
Misconduct can be defined as conduct that would reasonably be regarded by licensees or members of the public of good standing as disgraceful or seriously incompetent or negligent.
Misconduct is a willful or reckless breach of a regulation or rule relating to real estate agency work. This can include a licensee’s conduct when they are carrying out real estate agency work or personal behaviour that may reflect on the licensee’s suitability to hold a licence.
Examples of misconduct are:
- falsifying documents or records
- multiple serious issues within one transaction
- trust account issues
- sexual harassment or assault (both inside and outside of real estate work)
- addictive or prohibited behaviour that impairs a licensee’s ability to discharge their duties as a real estate professional.
What might unsatisfactory conduct look like?
Unsatisfactory conduct includes conduct that falls short of the standard of competence or diligence expected of a reasonably competent licensee. It might also include a breach of any relevant regulation or rule relating to conducting real estate agency work.
Examples of unsatisfactory conduct are:
- not disclosing a known defect in a property to a potential purchaser
- providing incorrect information to a potential purchaser about a property
- breaching the conflict of interest provisions of the Act (sections 134—137).
What else can be reported?
You can report any other concerns you have regarding the conduct of another licensee or agency to REA.
This may include concerns about a licensee’s health or welfare that may be impacting on their ability to conduct real estate agency work or concerns about the operation of an agency and its employees.
We will consider whether any action is required to address the issue raised.
What types of conduct can REA not look at?
REA can look at issues around real estate work or issues that don’t involve real estate work that might meet the threshold of misconduct. Examples of issues we can’t look at are:
- commission disputes
- residential property management (unless it involves dishonesty)
- most employment-related issues.
We recommend that you try resolving some issues before reporting to REA. Examples are:
- minor advertising issues
- commission disputes
- other agents approaching your vendor during a listing.
Learn more about approaching another agent's vendors here.
What guidance is available?
With this information, you should ask yourself how a reasonably competent licensee knowing all the relevant facts will view the conduct.
You are welcome to call and discuss the matter with us confidentially before you put a report in writing. We can talk to you about the reporting process, if a report is required, and about what information would help us to investigate the matter.
What happens when you make a report
When we receive a misconduct report, our early resolution team will review it. If necessary, the report is then passed to our investigations team. If you provide your details, we will contact you to talk about our process for dealing with reports.
Do I need to provide my personal details?
Reporting potential misconduct is an obligation for licensees under rule 7.2. It can be difficult to confirm or record that you have met your obligation if you don't provide your details.
This process will be discussed with you before any disclosure.
Will my identity be kept confidential?
We value the confidentiality of all parties during the investigation process. We won’t share your details with the licensee you’ve made a report about unless the law requires us to do so. We’ll assume you want your details kept confidential unless you confirm otherwise.
If a Complaints Assessment Committee (CAC) wishes to investigate the behaviour described in the report, we may need to share your details with the CAC.
We are happy to answer any questions about confidentiality before you make a report.
What might the outcome be?
If the report is investigated and is sufficiently serious, it may result in a finding of unsatisfactory conduct.
If the matter involves potential misconduct, charges can be laid by the CAC against the licensee and the case referred to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal (READT). The READT considers matters relating to misconduct.
Will you tell me the outcome?
The outcome of any investigation generally remains confidential to the CAC and the licensee under investigation. Other parties (including you, if you made the initial report) are not notified of the outcome unless it is published or if you decide you would rather pursue the matter as a complaint.
The outcome may be published if the CAC considers it is appropriate to do so. In that case, the identities of parties other than the licensee that is the subject of the report, will not be disclosed.
The identity of a licensee found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct will only be published after approval by the CAC or READT that made the finding. If a licensee is found guilty of misconduct, the decision whether to publish their identity will be made by the READT.
Make a report
We do recommend you call us before making a report so we can talk to you about the reporting process and what you can expect. You can also fill out the form using the link below if you would like to put your report in writing.
You don't need to provide your contact details, but this may limit the actions we can take. If you don't provide your details, you should consider keeping evidence of your report so you can show that you have
discharged your obligations under rules 7.2 and 7.3 of the Real Estate Agents Act (Professional Conduct and Client Care) Rules 2012. It can also affect REA’s ability to investigate the matter.
Read about obligations, confidentiality and the complaints process here.
Experiencing or witnessing unacceptable behaviour and the prospect of reporting another licensee’s conduct can be stressful and may cause anxiety.
It’s important to ensure you have support in place and know how to access help if needed. Talking to someone you trust and feel comfortable with can be a great help. You could consider talking confidentially to a senior member of your agency or your doctor. For serious or urgent matters, you may wish to contact Police.
You could also consider discussing the matter with someone at REINZ if you are a member before you submit a report. The team there has experience in ethical matters and may be able to assist.