Complaints: possible outcomes
Throughout this overview, the term “real estate agent” will be used when referring to registered brokerages, brokers and salespersons.
What are the possible outcomes?
RECO evaluates each complaint individually and based on the specific circumstances will determine a course of action.
When processing a complaint, RECO considers whether the real estate agent involved has a history of misconduct. If they do, it may escalate the chosen course of action and potential outcome.
Outcomes at a glance
There will be no action if the complaint is not supported by evidence or falls outside of RECO’s authority.
In certain circumstances, RECO may attempt to resolve the matter or impose a warning, a course, or a requirement.
RECO may escalate matters to pursue a discipline hearing or a provincial court prosecution.
In situations where RECO believes the salesperson, broker or brokerage is no longer entitled to registration, RECO can seek a suspension or a revocation.
No action will be taken if the allegations contained in the complaint are not supported by the evidence and information obtained by RECO. This can also happen if the complaint falls outside of RECO’s legal jurisdiction. That is, we don’t have the authority to deal with it.
The following actions may be taken without a formal hearing:
Resolution: Where appropriate, RECO may attempt to resolve a complaint by facilitating dialogue between the complainant and the real estate agent to address issues that may have come from miscommunication or a misunderstanding. Through the RECO dispute resolution process, the complainant and the real estate agent may agree on an appropriate solution.
Courses: Where the evidence suggests gaps in the knowledge of the real estate agent, they may be required to take educational courses at their own expense.
Warning: The real estate agent may be issued a written warning that will permanently remain on their record and will be taken into consideration if future complaints are received.
Requirement: The real estate agent may be required to take corrective action (for example, correct advertising that doesn’t comply with the rules).
Discipline or court action
For cases requiring more than administrative action, the following may be considered:
Discipline hearing: The complaint may be referred to a discipline committee for a hearing. If it’s determined 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.
Provincial court prosecution: People who breach sections of REBBA (other than the Code of Ethics) may be prosecuted in the Ontario Court of Justice system. Individuals convicted in court 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.
Suspension or revocation of registration
In situations where RECO believes the real estate agent is no longer entitled to registration, the following actions may be taken:
Proposal: RECO can issue a proposal to suspend, revoke, refuse to renew, or apply mandatory conditions to the real estate agents’s registration. This is the most severe action RECO takes and is reserved for the most serious circumstances. Real estate agents who receive a notice of proposal have 15 days, from the date the proposal is served, to file a notice of appeal with the Licence Appeal Tribunal (LAT) for a hearing. If no appeal is received, the proposal will be carried out.
Suspension: If a proposal to revoke has been issued, RECO may also immediately suspend a registration if it is believed to be in the public interest. Suspended real estate agents must immediately stop trading in real estate and return their registration certificate to RECO. Suspensions are also ordered for non-payment of an insurance premium.