A Whangarei real estate agent found guilty of unsatisfactory conduct has fought back and labelled the industry's watchdog "a bunch of cowboys" for what she claims was a failure to fully hear her side of the story.
The complaints assessment committee of the Real Estate Agents' Authority fined Adrienne Battersby of LJ Hooker Whangarei $2000 and censured her over her failure to disclose to a potential buyer a serious historic leak and rotting wall. The property was situated in Whangarei Heads.
The committee said it was not until the day the new buyers moved into the property that they noticed a sodden carpet and a wet area extending about a metre out from one of its walls.
A builder the complainants hired found one wall was completely rotten and blocks had been put into the wall to support it and then covered up again. While they had not obtained a building report prior to the purchase, they said they had asked Ms Battersby if there was anything of note and claimed nothing was declared.
Ms Battersby told the authority she did note the wall as having been replaced and that she had discussed this with the complainant and her father. She said she had told all potential buyers about the leak and drew attention to paragraph four of the consent signed by the complainants that advised them to include a LIM and/or building report. However, Ms Battersby said the complainants insisted they did not require these.
The committee said Ms Battersby failed in her duty to act as a conduit for the vendor and pass on all the appropriate information.
But the agent has launched a scathing attack on the authority, saying its decision was a "disgraceful abuse of real estate agents" who played a major role in the lives of Kiwis, every day.
"The research done by the REAA was of a very low standard. They didn't use all the documents I supplied and I'd say, having been a teacher for 35 years, that I wouldn't accept that standard of report writing from a 10-year-old," she said.
Ms Battersby claimed she supplied all the necessary information to the complainants but they chose to ignore them. She questioned why the buyer complained to the authority 15 months after moving in.
"I believe we need a monitoring body and support systems but not these guys. The REAA are grossly irresponsible and incompetent and need reviewing by an independent body," Ms Battersby said. "I pay them over $900 a year and all they do is abuse us. They are a bunch of cowboys who do as they please."
Ms Battersby said she would not appeal to the Real Estate Agents' Disciplinary Tribunal because it would cost her $8000 plus GST a day- money she would rather spend feeding children in Northland.
In response to her claims, authority chief executive, Kevin Lampen-Smith, said procedures for investigating complaints were robust and thorough.
"If Ms Battersby is unhappy with the Complaints Assessment Committee's decision against her, she can appeal it to the Real Estate Agents Disciplinary Tribunal."