JURISDICTION & HOW COMPLAINTS ARE EVALUATED
The Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission is responsible for setting standards of practice for the real estate industry. This role serves both the industry and the public: to create consumer confidence and trust in the industry is essential to limit unprofessional conduct including unethical, incompetent and illegal practices.
Complaints filed with the Commission are reviewed along with their evidence, when applicable, to determine whether the allegations violate the Real Estate Trading Act, their Regulations or the Commission Bylaw, or if they display conduct deserving of sanction which includes actions that:
- put consumers or other licensees at risk; or
- undermine public confidence in the industry or harm the integrity of the industry.
If a complaint falls under the Commission’s jurisdiction, the Registrar may direct the Compliance Investigator to examine the complaint and determine its validity. The Compliance Investigator will investigate the matters described in the complaint and collect information relating to the alleged conduct. The Commission may also investigate matters that reveal themselves through this assessment, but are not directly related to the complaint filed.
NO ANONYMOUS COMPLAINTS
The Commission will not proceed with a written, formal complaint unless it receives sufficient information determining the matter should be investigated. Often, the complainant may be called as a witness and without their cooperation the Commission may not be able to proceed.
PARTIES TO COMPLAINTS
The Commission accepts complaints from consumers, licensees, real estate associations, financial institutions and police agencies. Where the Registrar has reason to believe that a licensed person has engaged in unprofessional conduct or is in breach of this Act, the regulations or the by-laws, the Registrar may initiate a complaint without having received a formal complaint from another party.
The person or entity making the complaint (the complainant) is not a party to the proceeding. The proceeding is between the Commission and the licensee. At most, the complainant may be interviewed by the compliance investigator during the investigation stage and may become a witness if the matter proceeds to a discipline hearing.
Brokers are included (typically cc:ed on correspondence) in any formal complaints received by the Commission regarding a licensee at their brokerage.
In appropriate circumstances, the Commission may reach out to the broker in effort to resolve the issue at hand at the brokerage level. It is advised to follow the process outlined below when addressing an issue:
- speak to the licensee;
- speak to the client(s);
- speak to all relevant witnesses;
- confirm that all relevant documents are in the brokerage file and that the documents are authentic and completed accurately; and
- take appropriate action based on the results of your review as broker. If you have doubts as to what course of action to take, consult a lawyer.
If the results of your review identify weaknesses in your brokerage’s processes, amend existing policies, procedures or supervisory practices adequately. If a licensee from another brokerage is involved, it is recommended that you report the information related to their involvement directly to their broker. It is also important to report back to the Commission whether you came to a successful resolution.
When resolving an issue at the brokerage level is not possible, the Registrar may decide to open an investigation.