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Handling complaints

What can EAA investigate?

EAA is empowered to investigate and deal with any possible breach or infringement by a licensee of any requirement or provision of the Estate Agents Ordinance (EAO) and its subsidiary legislation, the Code of Ethics and Practice Circulars issued by EAA from time to time.

What information is required?

If you would like to make a formal complaint against a licensee, please give us as much information as you can, such as a detailed account of what, in your view, the licensee has done wrong, the dates involved, copies of any relevant or supporting documents (for example, provisional agreement for sale and purchase, provisional tenancy agreement, estate agency agreement, name cards, etc.), and any other materials you think can help us in our investigation.

How will EAA deal with my complaint?

Opening a file

We shall first make a preliminary assessment of all the materials received. If your complaint falls within our jurisdiction and warrants further investigation, a complaint file will be opened and assigned to a case officer. You will be notified in writing of the case reference number and the name of the case officer in charge of the file.

 
Giving your version of events

The case officer will normally ask you to attend our office to give a statement detailing your version of events. If for any reason you cannot come to our office, you can send us a written statement. However, attendance at our office is more helpful in pushing the investigation forward, as any ambiguities can be cleared up more quickly, and relevant persons and documents can be more precisely identified.

All the information we receive will be treated in strict confidence. Please note, however, that if the investigation so warrants, we may inform the licensee(s) being investigated and witness(es) of the subject matter, the full facts of the complaint, and who is making it.

 
Investigation

In the majority of cases, we set out the allegations made against the complainee(s) (licensee[s]) in writing and give the complainee(s) the opportunity to respond in person or in writing. We conduct interviews with witnesses and other related parties, do site visits as well as review relevant documents and materials.

We may also enlist the help of law enforcement agencies and other government authorities where necessary.

 
Results

After finishing our investigation, the case officer will present the findings in a written report. If there is sufficient evidence to substantiate the allegation, EAA or its Disciplinary Committee will conduct an inquiry hearing.

After completing the investigation and inquiry hearing (if held), both parties will be notified in writing of the outcome.

Please click here for a flowchart of complaints procedure under section 29(2) of the Estate Agents Ordinance.


Will EAA investigate all complaints?

There are certain circumstances where we may not investigate a complaint, for example, if the matter is outside our jurisdiction, there is insufficient information to pursue the case, or there has been a long lapse of time and the complainant is unable to recall the event and supply evidence.

Can EAA give legal advice on a civil dispute between an estate agent and a complainant?

As a regulatory body charged with regulating and controlling the practice of estate agents, we should always maintain our neutrality and act within the ambit of the EAO. It is therefore inappropriate for us to give legal advice to a complainant or estate agent on civil disputes.

Will EAA refer my complaint to law enforcement agencies or other government authorities?

If your report or our investigation reveals possible commission of any crime or offence under the EAO or other legislation, we may refer the case to the police, the Independent Commission Against Corruption, or other appropriate government authorities for investigation.

How will an investigation by other law enforcement agencies or court proceedings affect my complaint?

Where any matter substantially or closely related to the complaint is being investigated by other law enforcement agencies, or is being or about to be tried or litigated, we may defer our investigation of the complaint until the parallel investigation or judicial proceedings are over so as not to prejudice such parallel investigation or judicial proceedings.

What happens if an inquiry hearing is held?

If there is an inquiry hearing, the case will be heard by EAA or its Disciplinary Committee. The complainant and the complainee may give evidence, as may their witnesses. The complainee may have legal representation.

EAA or its Disciplinary Committee may summon any person to attend the inquiry hearing to give evidence.

If EAA or its Disciplinary Committee finds that your complaint is substantiated, it may exercise any of its disciplinary powers under Section 30 of the EAO, namely, admonishment, reprimand, fine, suspension, revocation, attachment of conditions to a practitioner's licence and variation of conditions attached to a practitioner's licence.


What happens if my complaint is substantiated? Will I get any compensation?

Any claim for damages caused by misconduct or breach of duty of licensees is not within EAA's jurisdiction and you should pursue it through legal proceedings by yourself.

Can a licensee appeal against EAA's decision?

Where disciplinary powers are exercised by EAA or its Disciplinary Committee under Section 30 of the EAO against a licensee, the licensee may appeal against the decision.

Where can I get more information?

If you wish to know more, please:

  • write to

    The Manager (Complaints)
    Estate Agents Authority
    48/F, Hopewell Centre, 183 Queen's Road East, Wanchai, Hong Kong

  • fax to 2119 9022

  • call our Hotline at 2111 2777

  • e-mail us at complaint@eaa.org.hk
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