What happens after I file a complaint with RECO?
I usually offer advice to home buyers and sellers to help make their real-estate experiences go more smoothly. But what about those occasions when things don’t go well?
The majority of real-estate professionals in the province are just that: professionals. They conduct themselves ethically and want to play by the rules, and give their clients the best possible service. But there are bad apples, and sometimes, there are good apples who make mistakes.
That’s where RECO comes in. Our mandate is consumer protection and to enforce the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA 2002) and its Code of Ethics that govern the conduct of real-estate salespersons and brokers. Under this legislation they must conduct their business with transparency, honesty, integrity and fairness. We have a dedicated team that manages and investigates complaints when there are concerns that a real-estate rep has not adhered to the rules.
We also investigate matters where people may be trading in real estate without being registered to do so.
Before filing a complaint with RECO it is always best to first talk to the broker of record — they are responsible, under REBBA 2002, for everything that happens at the brokerage where your representative is working. Their job is to ensure the brokerage complies with the legislation, deals with customer issues, and overall management of the business. And they will want to hear from you first because it is in their interest to solve problems and make sure clients are satisfied.
If that avenue doesn’t work, you may choose to file a formal complaint with RECO. Keep in mind it is not your job to know for sure if a real-estate salesperson or broker has actually broken any rules. That will be part of RECO’s investigative process. The general steps we take include:
- Acknowledging receipt of your complaint and reviewing it;
- Determining whether we have the jurisdiction to deal with the complaint;
- If we have the authority to proceed we will notify the subject(s), and their brokerage, of your complaint;
- Determining if the real estate professional’s conduct contravened any portion of REBBA 2002;
- If we find there has been inappropriate conduct, we will take action(s) to protect you and put a stop to future misconduct by the real estate representative in question;
- Keeping you informed about the results your complaint.
Keep in mind that RECO’s powers are set out in legislation. If you’ve signed a contract, RECO cannot cancel it or change it. Things like listing agreements, or offers to buy or sell, are generally binding once you sign — so make sure you read and understand everything first. Also, RECO has no authority to award financial compensation to you. For that, you would need to go to court.
If you have concerns about the conduct of a real estate professional, and the broker of record has not addressed your concerns, please visit the complaints and enforcement section of our website (reco.on.ca).
As the regulator charged with monitoring real-estate professionals in Ontario, we rely on consumer information and feedback to determine whether everyone is acting in accordance with the rules and standards. Receiving complaints allows us to better do our jobs.Joseph Richer is Registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO). He is in charge of the administration and enforcement of all rules that govern real estate professionals in Ontario. You can find more tips at reco.on.ca, follow on Twitter @RECOhelps or on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/RECOhelps.