Legislation introduced into Parliament today will extend the time for claims to be made against the real estate and settlement industry fidelity guarantee funds.
Fair Trading Minister Doug Shave said the funds existed to compensate people who lost money or property in a transaction through misappropriation by a real estate, business or settlement agent.
"The time in which written notice of a claim can be given after people become aware of a loss, will increase to three years from the present one year limit," Mr Shave said.
"Grounds for claims include criminal or fraudulent conduct by agents."
The Real Estate and Settlement Agents' Supervisory Boards will be able to extend the new three-year claim period to six years in certain circumstances.
"Some recent cases have shown that the one-year period is too short," Mr Shave said.
"The funds are there to protect real estate clients and these reforms will give them every reasonable chance to make a claim."
"The reforms will increase the number of claims the boards can hear."
The changes apply to fidelity fund claims made previously but rejected because they were outside the previous one-year limit. Because the boards will automatically examine all claims lodged within six years of people becoming aware of a loss, they ill not have to lodge claims a second time.
"People who did not previously lodge a claim because they were outside the one year limit will also be now able to lodge a claim," Mr Shave said.
"These amendments are the result of extensive consultation with all relevant parties and there has been general support for the reforms."
The draft legislation applies to the Real Estate and Business Agents Act 1978 and the Settlement Agents Act 1981.
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