October 05, 2022

Legal corner: Listing agents must take reasonable steps to verify information about parking spaces

Note to reader: This matter was prosecuted under the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002.

Case summary

In a recent discipline decision, a listing agent was found to have made inaccurate statements about parking access. In the listening, the agent stated that a property had two parking spaces in a driveway but failed to mention that the spaces were accessible only by crossing the neighbour’s property through their driveway.

At the viewing, the buyer specifically asked the listing agent whether the parking access would continue if they bought the property and was advised by the representative that the ongoing access was confirmed.  

Shortly after the buyer took possession of the property, the owner of the neighbouring property that was being crossed sent a warning letter to the buyer stating there was no legal access to the parking spaces and telling them to stop crossing their property. 

It turns out the buyer did NOT have free and unencumbered access to the parking spaces on their property. 

Discipline

A complaint was filed and the listing agent was found by the discipline committee to be in violation of s. 21 (1) and s. 38 of the Code of Ethics and fined $8,000 for failure to take reasonable steps to confirm access to parking on the property and posting inaccurate information in the listing.  

Learning opportunity

Representatives must take reasonable steps to ensure listing details are accurate. The accuracy of the information is critical to allow buyers to make informed decisions by making the necessary disclosures to protect the seller’s interest. Ontario maintains a ‘buyer beware’ principle, so the diligent effort made during the buying or selling process is a very important step and a shared responsibility between agents and their clients. Agents should make it a habit to verify all information with relevant, proper and accurate documentation (surveys, tax bills, receipts, etc.) and seek confirmation from appropriate authorities (municipal zoning department, lawyers, surveyors, etc.) and affected property owners.