Q: How do you make people aware of an unprofessional real estate agent? I want people to be aware of this one agent who cost us a potential sale because of her unprofessional behavior.
A: If you’ve had an unpleasant experience with either a listing agent or a buyer’s agent, you should first contact the managing broker or owner of the firm and schedule an appointment to discuss the situation. You should calmly discuss the problem and ask the broker to resolve it for you, either by bringing in the agent so everyone can air their grievance or by speaking directly to the agent on your behalf.
If that doesn’t solve the problem and you have a legitimate grievance, you can file complaints with the National Association of Realtors (if the agent is a member) and local and state association of realtors. The governmental department in your state that regulates real estate agents and real estate brokers may allow you to file a complaint against the agent with that office. You can go online to the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint there as well.
While it may help you feel better to file a complaint, it’s unlikely that your agent will lose his or her license because of it. I suppose if the behavior was egregious, your state may take some disciplinary action.
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But before you go down the war path with the agent, it’s worthwhile first trying to talk to the person that supervises that agent in the local office or regional office for that agency and then move up the chain of command to the owner if you do not feel your concern has been addressed property.
Lastly, while you say the agent was unprofessional in selling your home, there are times when a seller’s perception of a problem may not rise to a level that can actually be considered a real problem by most real estate professionals. You might want to discuss your situation with an unbiased person in the real estate industry to determine whether a problem is grave enough to merit more of your time on this issue.
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Ilyce Glink is an award-winning, nationally-syndicated columnist, television reporter, radio talk show host and bestselling book author. Her syndicated column, Real Estate Matters, appears in more than 100 newspapers and Web sites.
This guide covers complaints to estate agents, letting agents and managing agents.
Managing agents act as the manager of communal facilities of a residential block, usually leasehold or share of freehold, on behalf of the freeholder.
Estate agents sell property, usually chosen by and paid for by the seller of the property, by marketing it to potential buyers.
Letting agents arrange the renting of a property on behalf of the property's owner, usually chosen by and paid for by the property owner, and market it to potential tenants.
Sometimes, letting agents also manage the individual property for the owner, acting between tenant and landlord for the duration of the contract.
Read on to find out what to do if you have a problem with a property agent.
2 Complain directly to the agent
As always, you should speak first to the agent directly raising any concerns you may have with them in the first instance.
You should always give the agent a chance to put things right before escalating your complaint.
Be mindful that the agent might not be able to resolve your complaint immediately so it's worth establishing how long they think it could take.
If you're unhappy with the way your agent is dealing with your complaint, you should make a formal complaint and go through the agent's internal complaints procedure.
3 Escalate your complaint
Letting agents and management agents
From 1 October 2014, all letting and property management agents are required to be a member of one of three compulsory redress schemes.
The schemes are designed to ensure tenants and leaseholders have a straightforward option to hold their agents to account.
The three compulsory schemes for letting and managing agents are:
Ombudsman Services Property
The Ombudsman Services Property was discontinued in August 2018.
If your agent was a member of this scheme, it must join an alternative scheme.
The schemes will offer independent investigation of complaints about hidden fees or poor service.
The majority of letting agents are already signed up with one of the three organisations but the remaining 3,000 agents – 40% of the entire industry – must have signed up by 1 October 2014.
You can check with the different schemes to see if your letting agent is a member. If they are not, you have grounds to complain to your local trading standards department.
However, each local authority has the power to decide whether they apply a 'grace' period or not.
And remember, ombudsmen will not usually deal with a complaint until you've exhausted your agents' own internal complaints procedure, and have been unable to reach a satisfactory resolution.
Estate agents must also belong to an ombudsman scheme so that complaints about them can be dealt with quickly and easily.
This became mandatory in 2007 by virtue of the Consumers Estate Agents and Redress Act 2007.
You can use our template letter to ask the Property Ombudsman to intervene in your dispute.
4 Complain to a trade association
If you're unhappy with the service or the treatment you've received from your estate agent, members of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) are bound by strict rules.
to see if your estate agent is a member.
The NAEA can take disciplinary action on your behalf if your agent hasn't protected and promoted your interests.
is the UK's professional body for letting agents.
If you have a complaint against an ARLA member, they can investigate this matter for you.
The Association of Residential Managing Agents (ARMA) is a trade association for residential property management agents.
This usually applies to leasehold property where the agent manages the whole building on behalf of the freeholder – whereas letting agents may manage individual flats within the building on behalf of individual owners.
All ARMA members must offer access to an independent ombudsman scheme where unresolved disputes can be addressed.
to see if your managing agent is a member.
If they are, ARMA can ensure that complaints are handled well by their members, but if your complaint remains unresolved, then you can take the matter to the ombudsman.
about one of its members for more information.
5 Renting Roulette campaign
Which? conducted research and produced a
There is a file available for download. ( — 2.04 MB ). This file is available for download at .
The report found that a significant number of tenants and landlords were experiencing issues with their property agent and many did not have a route to redress.
At the time, 40% of the market was not signed up to a redress scheme.
Which? lobbied hard in 2013 and sought an amendment to the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act 2013 which the government accepted.
This has resulted in the new legislation coming into force requiring all agents to sign up to a redress scheme.
Fraud, breach of duty and breach of contract – these are the top three complaints against real estate agents.
Before you file a formal complaint against a real estate, decide whether any misconduct has really occurred. Difficulties in relationship with a real estate agent often stem from a simple breakdown in communication; re-establishing communication may clear up any misunderstandings. However, if you feel that your agent has deliberately lied or misled you about anything you consider material (i.e. the condition of a piece of property, the willingness of a seller or buyer or the costs of services), you should move forward with filing a complaint.
Fraud, breach of duty and breach of contract – these are the top three complaints made against real estate agents. Fraud complaints usually stem from a real estate agent’s intentional non-disclosure of problems with the property. Breach of duty is when the agent’s action proved that he or she did not have the client’s best interest at heart. Finally, a breach of contract is when the agent willfully or consciously fails to perform any part of the contract.
Prior to filing a complaint against a real estate agent, you should compile the relevant information and documentation needed to support your claim in order to save yourself from any further hassle, additional expenses or headache. Be prepared to provide a factual description of the incident to include with your report.
The first step is calling the real estate agent’s office. Ask to speak directly to the managing broker – the person who is responsible for all the transactions and actions of your real estate agent. By law, the broker is the one who owes you a fiduciary duty to handle any complaints you serve against the agent.
Most of the time, a calm and sincere discussion with the broker can resolve any grievances you may have, which can save you a lot of time and energy when debating taking further legal action.
During your scheduled meeting with the agent’s managing broker, be mindful not to sound bitter and hard to reason with. Present all the facts without letting emotions get in the way. Include the names of witnesses, if you have any, as well as their contact details. Presenting yourself as a patient and competent individual will help you to support your claim against the real estate agent.
Before setting up the meeting, it is best to practice explaining your complaint. You’ll want to be precise, clear and firm. Making your complaints known in a professional manner will help you get the resolution you feel you deserve right away.
Request a resolution. Apart from merely making a complaint against a real estate agent, you can ask the managing broker to resolve your problem. For example, if the agent did not disclose a defect in the house, you could ask for an offsetting reduction in agent fees.
Be open to settlement. Accepting less than you want does not mean that you cannot still file a complaint with your state’s licensing board.
If you have strong evidence that the real estate agent has violated their association’s ethical standards, contact the local real estate board. The local real estate board has the authority to impose disciplinary actions to the erring agent.
Situations that merit due punishment include the following: the agent’s deliberate misleading of the home’s real value, non-disclosure of dual agency (the agent representing both the buyer and the seller) and failure to provide all suitable offers to the homeowner as per instructed in the contract of agreement.
You must understand that no monetary compensation can be given to you by the local real estate board. However, filing a complaint about a real estate can prevent the agent from doing the same thing to another innocent homebuyer/seller in the future.
You can file a complaint against your real estate agent with the Better Business Bureau (bbb.org). All you have to do is provide them with your zip code and you’ll be redirected to the website for your local chapter. Go to the ‘For Consumers’ page and then click on the ‘File a Complaint’ button. You will be taken to a new page that says ‘Start your complaint’ where you can report in detail all the information pertaining to your complaint.
The bureau will then proceed to make an investigation regarding the agent in question as soon as you file the complaint and will take the necessary actions for the offense.
If considerable monetary loses were obtained during your transaction with the unscrupulous real estate agent, it is wise to seek legal counsel.
If considerable monetary losses occurred during your transaction with the unscrupulous real estate agent, it would be wise to seek legal counsel to learn more about your options.