REINSW claims Fair Trading's dispute resolution service a "misguided use of public money"

The Real Estate Institute of New South Wales (REINSW) has released a statement criticising Fair Trading NSW for its dispute resolution process.

According to the statement released, NSW Fair Trading has requested additional funding for its non-binding dispute resolution process, which the REINSW claims is a waste of taxpayers’ money.

An extract from the REINSW statement reads:

"The Minister for Fair Trading’s application for additional funding for a dispute resolution service at NSW Fair Trading is a misguided use of public money, according to the Real Estate Institute of New South Wales.

REINSW President Malcolm Gunning said additional resources should be directed toward the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT), which replaced the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) from 1 January 2014.

'The NSW Fair Trading service is a waste of time for all parties involved,' Mr Gunning said.

'This service will not work because there won’t be a binding resolution to disputes.

'All it is going to do is increase time. There is no compulsion, participants don’t have to take the advice and in the end most will end up at NCAT anyway.'"

In a phone interview, Gunning stated that the service would add another level of bureaucracy and time to the resolution process.

"It’s an unnecessary expense – we have a system that is well developed and works. [The service is] a gross waste of money for the tenant, the landlord, and the agent, who all spend time and their own resources trying to resolve their issues," he said.

"The agent looks to resolve the issue on the behalf of the landlord and tenant, so if the issue goes further, it means the relationship between the managing agent and the tenant or landlord has already broken down. And the managing agent is usually very experienced, and understands the landlord and tenancy act very well."

In response to REINSW’s statement, a spokesperson from Fair Trading NSW has said that its dispute resolution service helps the parties involved sidestep the cost of taking their issue to NCAT.

"Far from adding another layer of red tape, this process obviates the need for the more expensive step of lodging a claim with the Tribunal," a Fair Trading NSW spokesperson wrote via email.

"Simply, this is an additional option available to landlords, property agents and tenants to resolve a dispute and does not impede a party going directly to the Tribunal.

"Almost 60% of matters handled by Fair Trading since 1 January 2014 have resulted in the offer and acceptance of a resolution in less than 14 days."

According to Fair Trading NSW, negotiation through its dispute resolution service is generally undertaken via phone or email, unlike a tribunal hearing, which requires all parties to be physically present at a venue, saving business time and travel costs. Fair Trading NSW did not respond to questions regarding any additional funding that may be required for the service.

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