Know the rules before you knock
I know it has been a very busy time for your industry, and to stay ahead of the game you are constantly looking at ways to reach new customers through online marketing, social media or contacting residents in your local area.
It is important to know that if you decide to go door knocking or cold calling, there are clear rules that apply to these activities under the Australian Consumer Law. If you do not follow these rules, you will not be entitled to any commission or fees that result from the activity.
Many Queensland homes display ‘do-not-knock’ signs at the front door, and you must not approach any residence that has one of these notices displayed.
If there is no ‘do-not-knock’ notice, you can approach the property, however if you are asked to leave you must do so and not return on behalf of the same business for at least 30 days unless invited.
If you decide to approach people by phone, you must make sure their phone number is not registered on the Do Not Call Register. There are also restrictions around the hours you can conduct door knocking, rules regarding information that you must disclose, as well as other conditions that apply if you enter into an agreement with the resident.
The Office of Fair Trading has recently received reports of real estate agents in Brisbane going door-to-door after 6pm and visiting houses that have ‘do-not-knock’ notices displayed.
After one resident explained the rules to an agent at their door, the agent apologised, stating they were new to the job and didn’t understand the rules.
This example should serve as a good reminder for leaders in the industry to not only understand the conditions which apply to unsolicited approaches, but also make sure their staff do too.
You must not conduct unsolicited approaches door-to-door on these days and times:
- on a Sunday or public holiday
- before 9 am or after 6 pm on a weekday
- before 9 am or after 5 pm on a Saturday.
When a resident answers their door, you must:
- explain upfront the purpose of your visit
- produce identification
- tell the resident they can ask you to leave at any time
- leave the premises if you are asked to do so
If you enter into an agreement, you must provide your client with a written copy of the agreement. This must:
- be signed
- state that you are acting on behalf of a business
- outline the cost
- include an Unsolicited consumer agreement cancellation notice to cancel the agreement
- include your contact details.
Contracts entered into as a result of an unsolicited door-to-door visit or telemarketing call, automatically have a 10 business day cooling-off period. During this period, you cannot provide any services to the client, cannot charge the client any fees, and the client can cancel the contract without penalty.
You must clearly explain these cooling-off rights to clients.
Importantly, if you break any of the rules or requirements in regard to unsolicited approaches, the cooling-off period may be automatically extended. This will allow the customer to cancel the contract without penalty up to sixmonths after entering the agreement.
For further information around your obligations when door knocking or cold calling, visit our website.
For information about the Do Not Call Register visit the Australian Communication and Media Authority’s website – www.donotcall.gov.au
If you have any questions about your obligations, contact one of our knowledgeable OFT team members by phoning 13 QGOV (13 74 68) or emailing BrisbaneOFT@justice.qld.gov.au
Read more about the OFT: how-the-oft-deals-with-bad-behaviour
Or take a look at our agency practice articles.