Property Complaints Office – “all the claims have been valid”

shredderAt the same meeting that heralded the all singing all dancing Property Complaints Office, there were two other guest speakers. Today I am dealing with the first speaker, who I have to admit I have absolutely no knowledge of, but perhaps you do!

The Speaker also at the HBPG Meeting of the 21 August, 2007 Mr. Hasan Sungur leader of the Estate Agents Union. Tomorrow I will print the test of the second speaker and a joint questions and answers session by both speakers.

Mr Hasan Sungar

Thank you for inviting me here today.

2007 has been a year of change for me as President of the Estate Agents Association as five months ago we became a legal entity; we now have teeth and will set industry standards which our members will have to adhere to. There are still some points in the new Estate Agency Law (EAL) that need to be ironed out, but on the whole we embrace the law. I have also been invited to be part of the Prime Ministers Committee that has been set up to investigate the complaints received by the newly formed PCO. I am here to tell you today that a total of 43 complaints have been received in the six weeks since the office opened, 33 of these have been subjected to investigation and solutions for 8 of those are very close. The 10 that we received last week have yet to be investigated. So far, our investigations have proved that all the claims have been valid.

I must admit that when I first saw the HBPG site and the list of ‘shamed’ builders I was very upset and annoyed, but once I met Marian and listened to what she had to say and came to see that she was dedicated to finding solutions and loved the TRNC, I came to understand better that it was a list born out of frustration. This does not make that action right, it is wrong to act as both jury and judge, especially when ones wrongdoing is not stated. The right way to have your voice heard is to report your complaint to the PCO; we are taking our responsibilities as investigating officers very seriously and will let you know of progress as events unfold. As we are just starting this process we are following a number of processes and applying them in every case. We are looking to see if contracts are stamped, that the project has been approved and adhered to, we are inviting the builder/estate agent into our offices to ascertain their side of the story; we are actively looking for solutions and bringing pressure to bear on the offender to rectify his/her mistakes to the satisfaction of the customer. Please remember that this process is new to us and progress might be slower than you would like, but we are actively working on them all.

On the subject of lawyers, it is evident from reading the files that there are some black sheep lawyers out there and many of you have lost faith in our legal system. Again – the PCO should be your first point of call when you have a complaint, if we cannot solve it, then the legal route may be the only avenue open to you. We have been giving some thought to listing lawyers whom we believe to be independent of the construction agency and hopefully I can let Marian know about this shortly. Within the next month I will give Marian e-mail addresses and telephone numbers of other associations you can turn to for help. For instance I see a lot of the reports in the files are not from people whose reports would be acceptable in a court case, it is important you only employ the services of someone whose word will be heard and not questioned.

There is one point I would like to make, it is about the differences in our cultures. You can fall out with your builder or estate agent, you may even punch him, but once you start calling his honour into question – all helpful dialogue dies. If you are reaching the point where you are falling into insults – stop – contact the PCO – we will investigate your complaint and suggest a solution. As we progress with these actions, I am sure many of these situations will be avoided as people become better at customer relations or when the word spreads that these practices will no longer be tolerated.

The Prime Minister is dedicated to finding a way forward to make things better for the customers, who are yet to come, by learning from the mistakes made with the customers we have and solving those problems so all we have are satisfied customers. However it does no good to just come down heavy handed on the builders/estate agents, there is nothing to be gained by forcing them into bankruptcy, and we hope to find solutions acceptable to both sides.

Thank you for listening.

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