Real Estate Council Announces Measures to Strengthen Public Protection Through Enhanced Investigation, Enforcement & Advice

Hiring of New Legal Counsel - Compliance will Streamline Investigation and Discipline Outcomes

VANCOUVER, April 1, 2016 /CNW/ - The Real Estate Council of BC is implementing new measures to enhance public protection for real estate consumers in British Columbia. Beginning today, April 1, the Council's investigations of potential licensee misconduct will be conducted in conjunction with a staff lawyer, and in cases of significant public risk, with the participation of private investigation teams.

The measures now in effect are part of a number of enhancements arising from a policy and process review conducted by the Council in 2015 into complaints, investigation and discipline procedures. In light of recent reports around licensee conduct, the Council has fast-tracked the implementation of a number of measures  to expand its investigation capacity and increase its ability to act in the public's best interests. These include:

  • A new position, Legal Counsel – Compliance, to assist with investigations by the Council's team of compliance officers, with the goal of ensuring that complaints progress efficiently through the investigation process and result in effective and timely discipline outcomes. Patrick Poyner joined the staff of the Council on April 1, 2016 as the new Legal Counsel – Compliance.
  • Enhanced investigation planning and implementation by teaming compliance officers with private investigators on matters deemed to pose significant public risk.
  • A Professional Standards Advisor position to respond to questions and concerns from members of the public and from real estate licensees. Since that position was introduced on January 4, 2016, the Professional Standards Advisor has directly responded to more than 2,000 phone and email enquiries, 46% of them from consumers. The Council's Professional Standards Advisor is unique amongst similar positions at other regulatory bodies in answering questions from the public, as well as from industry members.

"These enhancements demonstrate the Council's commitment to acting in the public interest, and to a workplace culture of continuous improvement," said Council Chair Marylou Leslie. "The Council is already one of the province's most active regulators, and these new measures will streamline our processes, increase our productivity, and create stronger working relationships between investigators and our legal team. The outcome will be a more effective regulatory body, and a strengthened enforcement regime that real estate consumers can have confidence in."

In addition, the Council is working to increase its outreach to consumers. Ensuring that consumers can access the information they need about the real estate process, and know where to turn with questions or concerns are key elements to ensuring the public's interest is protected. In the weeks ahead, the Council will be launching a province-wide public awareness campaign designed to give members of the public practical advice to help them make informed decisions when buying or selling real estate.

By setting and enforcing standards of practice for real estate licensees, the Council works to ensure that British Columbians can count on licensees to provide dependable advice and professional service, whether they're buying, selling or renting property. In February, the Council responded to media reports that some real estate licensees were not acting in their clients' best interests by initiating the creation of an Independent Advisory Group (IAG). The IAG is reviewing the conduct requirements in place for BC's licensed real estate professionals, and examining whether those requirements are adequate and whether they are being effectively enforced.

Recommendations from the group, which is chaired by BC's Superintendent of Real Estate, Carolyn Rogers, are expected at the end of May, and the Council looks forward to receiving the recommendations and implementing further measures to strengthen the regulation of real estate in British Columbia.

About the Council: Complaints, Investigations  and Enforcement in 2016

Between January 1 and March 31, 2016 the Real Estate Council of BC has:

  • Responded to 1,059 enquiries from members of the public and 1,226 licensees
  • Received 189 complaints
  • Conducted 59 Audits and Inspections of real estate brokerages
  • Published 25 disciplinary orders, including
    o   22 licence reprimands
    o   3 suspensions
    o   12 fines

Anyone who is concerned that a real estate licensee has acted improperly is encouraged to contact the Council, by phone at 1-877-683-9664, or by email at info@recbc.ca. The Council investigates complaints it receives from both consumers and licensees.

SOURCE Real Estate Council of BC

For further information: Media Contact: Marilee Peters, Communications Officer, Real Estate Council of BC, 604-683-9664 | mpeters@recbc.ca

RELATED LINKS
http://www.realestatecouncil.bc.ca

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