New rules to strengthen consumer protections when working with real estate licensees

THE Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) is introducing new rules to improve consumer protection in the real estate industry.

These rules will:

* Require enhanced disclosure of real estate licensee remuneration that will inform consumers about how remuneration is to be divided between a listing brokerage and cooperating brokerage.

* Ensure licensees inform consumers of the duties and responsibilities owed to both clients and unrepresented parties before working with consumers.

* Warn consumers of the risks of relying on a licensee to provide limited assistance if the licensee already represents another party to the transaction.

* Prohibit ‘dual agency’, the practice of acting on behalf of both the buyer and seller on the same deal. This makes BC the province in Canada to prohibit the practice.

The new rules will come into force beginning March 15, 2018.

“These rules will significantly change the way that real estate services are provided in British Columbia,” said Micheal Noseworthy, BC’s Superintendent of Real Estate. “The changes will empower consumers and provide clarity around the role of an agent. Ending dual agency removes the potential for conflict and serious problems. We want to create transparency for both consumers and licensees to ensure everyone understands in whose interest licensees must be working.”

These new rules originate from the recommendations made in the final report of the Independent Advisory Group on Real Estate Regulation in BC in June 2016. These rules are the product of extensive consultation with industry, feedback received from real estate licensees and the public, as well as from the Real Estate Council of BC.

A consultation on these rules was completed on October 6, 2017, after OSRE posted a draft version of the proposed rules for a 30 day public comment period on September 6, 2017. OSRE received strong support from the public on all proposed rules.

The feedback received from licensees indicated a strong desire for education on the new rules, something strongly supported by both OSRE and RECBC. The Superintendent will require licensees to complete education relating to the new rules and intends to publish a rule for feedback in the coming weeks to support this requirement.