Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Estate agent faces charges over dealings with three properties

Rajneel Raj.
Rajneel Raj.

An Auckland real estate agent is facing serious charges relating to three properties he dealt with.

In one of the most wide-ranging cases brought before the industry watchdog, the Real Estate Agents Authority, Rajneel Raj of ReMax Best in Henderson Valley, West Auckland, has been accused by the authority of living in the place he was meant to be selling without the owner's knowledge or consent, making an agreement for sale and purchase for the property and falsely representing the purchase price to deceive a bank into providing 100 per cent finance.

He is also alleged to have:

* Failed to disclose to the vendor or purchaser that he would be obtaining a financial benefit from the purchase and on-sale of one of the three properties

* Submitted two agreements for sale and purchase for signature without all material particulars inserted or attached to the document

* Inserted material particulars into an agreement without the purchaser's knowledge or consent.

In his dealings with one of the properties, Mr Raj is alleged to have forged the purchaser's signature and initials on a sale and purchase agreement document

As well, he is accused of failing to disclose to the vendor or purchaser that he would be obtaining a financial benefit of $62,000 from the purchase and on-sale of the property.

Charges relating to a third property allege the real estate agent forged a signature and initials and failed to disclose to the vendor or purchaser that he would be obtaining a financial benefit of $49,815.11 from the purchase and on- sale of the property.

Mr Raj's case has been referred to the independent Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, the body which deals with the most serious grievances brought before the authority.

Established in 2009, the authority and tribunal replaced the self-governing and regulatory functions of the Real Estate Institute and Real Estate Agents Licensing Authority.

Since 2009, complaints received by the authority have been referred to a three-member complaints assessment committee which hears both sides before deciding on the next step.

As with Mr Raj's case, this could include referring the case to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal, which can suspend or ban agents or order a licensee to pay compensation of up to $100,000.

The committee can also censure the licensee of an agent's firm, demand an apology, require further training or education, order a licensee to reduce, cancel or refund fees or impose fines.

Agents can also be ordered to pay the costs of major complaint investigations.

Other notable cases which have been heard by the disciplinary tribunal include one of a real estate agent who lent money to a buyer and failed to disclose it, an agent who tried to sue a purchaser for commission when she helped aid the sale of a house listed on Trade Me but failed to declare she was an agent, and two agents who came to physical blows over a property they were trying to sell.

The accusations against Mr Raj will be heard from June 20 to 22 at the Auckland District Court, in front of the tribunal.

His licence has suspended until the outcome of the hearing.

He is yet to enter a plea to the charges.

- NZ Herald

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