The Ontario Real Estate Association released the first of four industry white papers Tuesday, arguing in favour of more stringent regulation.
OREA effectively lobbied Queen’s Park to review the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002 (REBBA) and the government has committed to do so. The white papers are the next step in that advocacy.
“Ontario needs much stronger deterrents for unethical behaviour and a regulator that isn’t afraid to throw the book at violators,” Ettore Cardarelli, OREA President said in the white paper.
In the white paper, entitled Better Enforcement and a Regulator that Works
, OREA argues in favour of heftier fines for breaching REBBA’s Code of Ethics.
The maximum fine is $25,000 for agents and $50,000 for brokerages; those figures were set in 2002 when the average resale home cost $211,000. With the average price more than doubling to $619,000, OREA argues the effectiveness of those fines has been reduced.
OREA is suggesting the maximum fines be raised to $50,000 and $100,000 respectively.
“This White Paper is a bold first step towards modernizing Ontario’s real estate rules,” said Ettore Cardarelli, OREA President. “The rules governing Ontario Realtors were established 15 years ago – it’s time to update them to keep Ontario’s real estate market strong for consumers. OREA is committed to raising the bar on professional standards, and is leaving no stone unturned to make it happen.”
Along with the suggested fine increase, OREA is also advocating for;
- The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) be given the ability to order a registrant to repay either all, or a portion, of the profits gained as a result of a breach under the REBBA Code of Ethics
- RECO be given the authority to suspend or revoke registration or apply terms and conditions
- Permit the Auditor General of Ontario to conduct value for money audits of RECO and all its programs to ensure that registrants’ fees and other sources of revenue are being used efficiently
- Make all RECO registration fee increases subject to ministerial approval
- Make RECO subject to the oversight of an internal RECO Ombudsman
- Provide RECO with powers to proactively investigate REBBA and the Code of Ethics violations; and
- Make RECO more transparent when it comes to freedom of information requests
“The review of REBBA is a once in a lifetime opportunity to shape the future of our profession and to strengthen our industry,” said John Meehan, Chair of the 2017 REBBA Review Task Force. “Helping people through the largest financial transaction of their lives is a giant responsibility, and an enormous privilege. Ontario home buyers and sellers deserve to work with professionals who are being held to the highest standards.”