Resolving complaints

The source of the Problem

Try to resolve your problem with the business first. Anyone licensed by the Office of Fair Trading, like agents, accommodation providers, etc. are required to have their own complaints handling process by law.

By making a complaint quickly you have a chance to improve your situation and the business involved gets to learn of your problem and try to ensure you are a satisfied customer.

When you make a complaint, get your facts right and always stay calm.

If you telephone the business:

  • make a note beforehand of what you want to say;
  • have receipts and any other documents handy;
  • get the name of the person you speak to and write down the date and time and what is said; and
  • follow up your call with a letter particularly if your complaint is a serious one.

If you need to put it in writing:

  • address your letter to the General Manager or the person nominated as the complaint handler;
  • describe the item or service;
  • say where and when you bought the item or when the service was done, and how much it cost;
  • explain what is wrong, any action you have already taken, to whom you spoke and what happened;
  • say what you want done to remedy the situation - for example, a refund or repair, or the job done again without charge;
  • set a deadline for when you want the matter resolved;
  • consider using registered mail so you can be sure your letter was received;
  • keep copies of any letters you send. Do not send original documents, such as receipts and guarantees - send photocopies instead; and
  • follow up with a reminder letter if you don't get a reply the first time. An agent is obliged under the Code of Conduct within the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 to respond to a complaint within 7 days whether or not they accept or refute your complaint.

If this fails, then call the Office of Fair Trading or the Residential Tenancy Authority, depending on the nature of the problem for advice.

If you are dealing with an agent who is a member of the REIQ, you can also complain to REIQ regarding the agent's conduct. The Office of Fair Trading recommends you lodge the complaint with the agent first, then to the REIQ before contacting the Office of Fair Trading.

If you want to make a complaint against a solicitor, make a written complaint to the Legal Services Commission within the Department of Justice and Attorney-General. Complaint forms can be downloaded from the website www.lsc.qld.gov.au or you can phone the Legal Services Commission on (07) 3406 7737 or 1300 655 754 (if you are calling from outside Brisbane).

Making a claim for compensation

You can make a written claim for compensation from the Property Agents and Motor Dealers Act 2000 Claim Fund, through the Office of Fair Trading, if you have suffered a loss because of the actions of an auctioneer agent or their salesperson in certain situations (not including investment property purchases).

You can make a claim if you have suffered loss because an agent has:

  • engaged in misleading or unreasonable conduct;
  • not properly dealt with trust monies or did not hold money as specified in the contract;
  • wrongfully received an amount belonging to someone else;
  • stolen, misappropriated, misapplied property entrusted to them or falsely accounted, or wrongly converted trust monies, for example, deposit money.
  • not told you they had a financial interest in the property you sold or that was sold to you (eg. the agent bought the property you were selling);
  • made false representation about a property;
  • not provided you with a written disclosure statement about purchase of vacant land before signing the contract;
  • not provided you with a statement identifying the proposed lot being purchased; or
  • breached the legislation in specified ways.

You can't make a claim if you have suffered a financial loss:

  • if you gave a licensee direction to invest money rather than leave it in the licensee's trust account - even if the licensee stole, misappropriated or misapplied your trust monies;
  • because you failed to make effective disclosure to a prospective buyer;
  • through dealings with a property developer or the property developer's employees (eg. buying off the plan);
  • because of a marketeering contravention in relation to a person buying a residential property (other than a principal place of property).

There are time and other limitations for making a claim.

You have to make a claim within one year of becoming aware of our loss or within three years of the event that caused the loss (whichever is the earlier). If you started legal proceedings to recover the loss within that time, you must lodge your claim with the Office of Fair Trading using Claim Against the Claim Fund PAMD Form 50 within three months after the end of legal proceedings (see Forms Page).

The Chief Executive from the Office of Fair Trading decides minor claims ($5,000 or less), and refers claims over $5,000 to the Commercial and Consumer Tribunal for determination.

For more detailed information, download the Office of Fair Trading's Making a Minor Claim (for less than $5,000) or making a claim over $5,000 fact sheet from www.fairtrading.qld.gov.au or call 13 13 04 to request a hard copy.

Translated version of the above fact sheets are also available in Chinese simplified and traditional, Italian, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Making a claim for a property marketeering contravention

You can only make a claim for compensation in relation to property marketeering contraventions if you have suffered capital loss because of the actions of a real estate agent, auctioneer or their employee when purchasing your principal place of residence (not an investment property).

A marketeering contravention includes:

Misleading conduct eg. lying, leading someone to a wrong conclusion, creating a false impression, leaving out or hiding important information and making false claims about the property or service.

Unconscionable conduct where one party is placed at a disadvantage because of the conduct of another party and unfair advantage is taken as a result, eg:

  • the stronger party imposing conditions that were not necessary to protect their legitimate business interest;
  • using undue influence, pressure or unfair tactics;
  • the stronger party not making adequate disclosure to the weaker party.

False representation and other misleading conduct in relation to residential property, eg:

  • selling a property at a grossly inflated price, particularly if large commissions have been paid to marketeering companies which are concealed as part of the sale price;
  • making false or misleading representations about the nature of the interest, price payable, location, characteristics of the property or about the use to which the property can be legally put, or the existence or availability of facilities associated within the property.

You can only make a claim if:

  • a marketeering contravention has occured by a real estate agent, auctioneer or their employee (as described above);
  • you have suffered a capital loss;
  • you purchased the property as your principal place of residence (not an investment property);
  • you have on-sold the property; and
  • the property is located in Queensland.

You may recover up to a maximum of $35,000 for capital loss suffered as a result of a marketeering contravention. Even if your capital loss exceeds $35,000 you may only recover up to $35,000 from the claim fund.

If you intend to make a claim, you must lodge a Notice of Intention to Claim for a Marketeering Contravention Form PAMD Form 50-1 with the Office of Fair Trading within one year after the purchase contract date (see Forms Page). You are then required to lodge a Making a Claim against the Claim Fund PAMD Form 50 after you have sold your property (see Forms Page). You have 6 years from the contract date of the purchase of your property to lodge a claim.

Next Page: Forms Summary