Changes proposed to Ontario real estate laws

What is the government doing to help with the current real estate conditions?

That’s a very timely question.

As part of their continued efforts to strengthen the consumer protection laws that deal with trading in real estate in Ontario, and make the experience better for consumers, the government is seeking input on draft changes to the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA).

The province’s current real estate regulatory framework already provides considerable protection to buyers and sellers who use the services of a real estate agent. It also provides access to certain types of information about any listed properties they’re interested in.

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services is seeking feedback on additional proposed changes to the regulations so that consumers are even better supported and can make yet more informed decisions.

Allowing offer contents to be shared: Currently, real estate agents cannot disclose the contents of offers to other buyers. This means that seller agents are expressly prohibited from sharing the details of competing offers with the other buyers.

The government is proposing a change to permit sellers’ agents to share contents of offers, at the seller’s direction.

Increasing information and disclosure obligations: Proposed changes would enhance the information that agents are required to share with buyers, sellers and others about real estate services that agents and brokerages provide.

Agents would also have to give a consumer guide published by the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to prospective clients. The guide would include information to help consumers choose a brokerage, and outline key decisions they should be prepared to make, among other things.

Clarifying the relationship between brokerages and consumers: The proposed legislative updates would clarify the relationship between a consumer and a brokerage so that consumers can decide if they want to be a brokerage’s client, or to be self-represented.

The information necessary for a consumer to make an informed decision about the relationship would also be improved. The change would strengthen the legal protection for consumers who use a brokerage that offers representation to more than one client in a transaction.

Enhancing RECO’s powers and tools: The government is also proposing changes that would give RECO more jurisdiction and support compliance efforts where they are needed the most. These enhancements to give added protection to consumers include:

    • updates to the rules about the information RECO must make publicly available;
    • permitting RECO to require brokerages to report transactional data for specific purposes; and
    • providing RECO more authority over administrative matters related to certain advertising, record-keeping, and notice requirements.

Additional changes to the code of ethics regulation: Last, but not least, updates are also being proposed to the code of ethics and provides standards that agents and brokerages are required to follow to manage transactions in an ethical and transparent manner.

The government welcomes input on these proposals by January 24, 2022.

To learn more, get a copy of the proposed updated draft regulations, and provide your input, please visit the Ontario Regulatory Registry website.


This column is for general information purposes only and is not meant as legal or professional advice on real estate transactions.

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.

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