A Brokers Guide To Complaints & Investigations
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 the Real Estate Trading Act, its Regulations or the Bylaws, the Registrar may initiate a complaint without having received a formal complaint from another party.
There are two ways the Commission addresses complaints; formally or informally.
Brokers are included (typically being copied on emails or letters) in the correspondence of 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.
When an investigation into the conduct of a licensee is opened, their broker and in some cases their managing associate broker is copied on the notification to the licensee.
A broker is responsible for ensuring that the business of the brokerage is carried out in accordance with the governing legislation. Brokers are also responsible to deal promptly and appropriately with unprofessional conduct when becoming aware of it. Every investigation will consider broker conduct and brokerage policies.
If a licensee at your brokerage, whose conduct is the subject of an investigation, is called to attend an interview with the Commission, you are invited to attend. Throughout the investigation, the compliance investigator may request documentation (i.e. brokerage transaction files) to substantiate or refute the allegations of the complaint. The compliance investigator will keep you informed the matter concludes.
The Registrar’s decision is reviewed by the Complaints Review Committee (CRC), who may accept, reject or make recommendations to amend the decision to:
- recommend no charges;
- recommend charges through a settlement agreement. If the licensee accepts the proposed settlement agreement, they must satisfy the imposed penalty. If the licensee does not agree with the proposed settlement agreement, the matter is referred to the Discipline Committee.
- refer the matter to the Discipline Committee.
As broker, you may receive a charge against you including for inadequate brokerage policies which led to the licensee’s conduct, or your own involvement (i.e. for advice given that may be incorrect or not taking appropriate action when reviewing the brokerage transaction file.)
At the discretion of the Registrar, a proposed Settlement Agreement may be sent to you as broker if the investigation results in charges, which state the specific rule breached by the licensee and the penalty/penalties imposed. Settlement Agreements are returned to the Commission accepting or rejecting the penalty/penalties imposed.
The CRC or the Registrar may refer the matter to the Discipline Committee, where a panel is appointed and a formal hearing will make a final decision on the matter. Licensees who reject the Settlement Agreement also force the matter to be referred to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.