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What to do if you have a problem with your real estate agent

Region: Ontario Answer # 0458

In Ontario, the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA) is administered by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). RECO was established as the Administrative Authority that regulates real estate salespeople, brokers and brokerages who must be registered with RECO in order to trade in real estate in Ontario.

Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 Code of Ethics

REBBA sets out a Code of Ethics that brokerages, salespeople and brokers must follow, such as:

• A registrant shall treat every person fairly, honestly and with integrity
• A registrant shall promote and protect the best interests of the registrant’s clients
• A registrant shall provide conscientious service to the registrant’s clients and customers and shall demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence in providing those services

The Code also lists specific obligations that must be followed regarding ‘written agreements’, ‘offers’, and ‘delivery of deposits and documents’ amongst others. View the Code of Ethics for a complete list.

Complaint procedure

RECO is responsible for addressing complaints, inquiries, and concerns about the conduct of its registered real estate salespeople, brokers and brokerages. If you believe your salesperson may have breached the Code of Ethics or acted unethically, a complaint can be filed using RECO’s online complaint form. Each complaint will be evaluated. Based on the specific circumstances RECO may:

• Hold a hearing before a RECO Discipline Committee to consider allegations of breaches of the Code of Ethics.
• Lay charges under the Provincial Offences Act for breaches of REBBA.

Possible outcomes of a complaint

In assessing each complaint RECO considers whether the subject of the complaint has a history of misconduct. This may affect the course of action taken. Possible outcomes of a complaint include:

  • No action if complaint is not supported by evidence or falls outside of RECO’s legal authority
  • Administrative action such as a warning (which remains on the agent’s permanent record), or requiring the agent to take educational courses at their own expense
  • The conduct of someone can be referred to RECO’s Discipline Committee for a hearing to consider allegations of breaches of the Code of Ethics
  • If a discipline hearing determines that a real estate agent failed to comply with the Code of Ethics, they may be ordered to take educational courses, pay a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals and $100,000 for brokerages and/or pay costs
  • If individuals or corporations are convicted in an Ontario Court of Justice for a breach of REBBA (other than the Code of Ethics)
    • individuals are subject to fines of up to $50,000 and/or prison terms of up to two years,
    • corporations are subject to fines of up to $250,000.
  • Registration suspension, revocation, refusal to renew, or mandatory conditions added to the registration. The subject of the complaint is entitled to a hearing before the Licence Appeal Tribunal or the Ontario Superior Court of Justice

More info

For more information on what to do if you have a problem with your real estate agent, visit RECO, Complaints & Enforcement. Visit other Real Estate Law topics for more information, or our Links for a list of additional resources.

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