Better protection for B.C. real estate consumers

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The Real Estate Council of B.C. is putting into place new methods to enhance public protection for real estate consumers in the province. Effective April 1, the Council’s investigations of potential licensee misconduct will be performed with the help of a staff lawyer, and if necessary in cases of significant public risk, alongside private investigation teams.

These changes are due to a policy and process review conducted by the Council in 2015 into complaints, investigations and disciplinary procedures. These moves come following recent media reports on licensees not acting in the best interests of their clients, resulting in the formation of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG) to review the conduct requirements for B.C.’s licensed real estate professionals and examining whether they are being effectively enforced.

Some of the new measures include the addition of Patrick Poyner as legal counsel for compliance, to help investigations by the Council’s team of compliance officers and ensure that complaints progress efficiently through the investigation process; enhanced investigation planning and implementation by having compliance officers work with private investigators on issues that may pose significant public risk; and a professional standards advisor position to handle questions and concerns from the public and real estate licensees.

“These enhancements demonstrate the Council’s commitment to acting in the public interest, and to a workplace culture of continuous improvement,” said Marylou Leslie, Council Chair, in a press release. “The Council is already one of the province’s most active regulators, and these new measures will streamline our processes, increase our productivity, and create stronger working relationships between investigators and our legal team. The outcome will be a more effective regulatory body, and a strengthened enforcement regime that real estate consumers can have confidence in.”

The Council is also working to further its outreach to consumers. Ensuring that consumers can access any information they need about the real estate process and have a place to turn to with questions or concerns are key to ensuring the public’s interest is protected.

Moving forward, the Council plans to launch a province-wide public awareness campaign to provide practical advice to help with making informed decisions when buying or selling real estate. These enhancements by the Council ensures that citizens of B.C. can depend on licensees to provide dependable advice and professional service for all real estate transactions.

Recommendations from the IAG to help strengthen the regulation of real estate in B.C. are expected at the end of May. 

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