British Columbia’s government plans to end industry self-regulation in the real estate industry and focus on increasing the governance, oversight, transparency and accountability of the sector in an effort to strengthen consumer protection, announced Premier Christy Clark. This comes after an independent panel investigating misconduct in B.C.’s real estate industry made recommendations on how to address these issues.
“After reading the report, our conclusion is that the privilege of self-regulation in the real estate industry must end,” said Premier Clark in a press release. “This report examines shady practices and challenges plaguing the real estate market, particularly in the Lower Mainland, putting consumers at risk and tarnishing the reputations of honest professionals in the sector. We will act to protect British Columbians when they are making one of their most important family investments – purchasing a home.”
The B.C. government is accepting the 28 recommendations of the independent advisory group and vows to establish a dedicated superintendent of real estate that will take over the regulation and rule-making of the Real Estate Council of B.C. and carry out changes to restore public confidence; change up the Real Estate Council by including public-interest, non-industry members; implement the recommended penalties and increase fines for unlicensed activity and other offences; and allow for commissions from licensees engaging in misconduct to be taken back to the council, among others.
“Government is assessing the best and fastest way to enhance transparency and consumer protection in the real estate industry,” said Finance Minister Michael de Jong. “We are working on legislation that will expand the powers of the superintendent of real estate to address these issues, ensure appropriate public representation on the board and implement higher disciplinary and administrative penalties.”
The superintendent of real estate will provide the additional powers needed to address other recommendations made in the report, such as requiring increased standards for licensees and necessitating record-keeping and reporting to help identify any practices that may be impacting consumer safety.