Government launches consultation on multiple representation
Last week, the Ontario government launched a consultation on proposed changes to the rules around multiple representation. RECO welcomes the government’s review and urges registrants and other industry stakeholders to contribute to the government’s consultation.
This is the latest development in an issue that has grown in prominence in the past few years.
At RECO, we saw an increasing number of questions and complaints related to multiple representation, and so in March 2016 we issued a Registrar’s Bulletin to real estate professionals to clarify and emphasize the rules.
In the fall, the issue attracted the attention of the media as well, with a story on CBC’s Marketplace that featured hidden camera footage of six registrants.
Posing as a couple, the reporters asked the registrants what they could do to help them in a multiple representation situation. The responses varied, but the six salespeople shown said they would be able to provide some type of confidential information (like details of the other offers), and some indicated that they could ensure that the couple would get the property.
Just a few weeks ago CBC reported on another “double ended” deal where the buyers lost their deposit, indicating that multiple representation remains a hot button issue in the marketplace.
The behaviour captured by Marketplace and alleged in the follow-up CBC piece is unacceptable. In the Marketplace report, the identities of the six unethical registrants were hidden and CBC has refused to share the unedited footage. Since then, we have identified one registrant through information provided by other registrants, and we will move forward with prosecuting the individual.
If registrants have information about the individuals featured in the CBC reports, or any other instances of serious misconduct, it is important that you share it with RECO so that we can take action. Anyone with information can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In addition, it’s important to remember that brokers of record are accountable for the people they employ. If any broker or salesperson is engaging in questionable practices, their broker of record must put a stop to it.
Communicating about the issue
Consumer protection is imperative. In addition to dealing with misconduct by specific registrants, RECO is also addressing the broader, ongoing challenges that arise as a result of multiple representation.
Our activities have included:
· Issuing a consumer bulletin that outlined the downsides to multiple representation, and what consumers need to know about the existing rules;
· Publishing an “Ask Joe” column in the Toronto Star on the same subject;
· Redistributing our Registrar’s bulletin to all registrants as a reminder of the rules that are currently in place; and
· Hosting a webinar for brokers of record and executive officers of local boards and associations that reinforced their role as industry leaders in urging compliance and professional conduct.
Recommendations to government
In January, RECO submitted recommendations to government on how to enhance consumer protection around multiple representation.
We recommended that the Ontario government amend REBBA to:
· Prevent or prohibit conflict of interest situations;
· Eliminate or drastically reduce the financial benefits of acting unethically;
· Ensure consumers are provided with clear, consistent information regarding the nature of their relationship with their representative, and the services they’ll provide; and
· Provide RECO with appropriate tools and penalties to respond to consumer harm.
We are pleased that the Ontario government is addressing multiple representation and we look forward to being a key participant in the review.
At this time, industry feedback is essential to the government’s review. Once again, the government consultation paper can be found here. The deadline for submissions is July 24, 2017.