Adoption of Bill 141 amending the Real Estate Brokerage Act
Mitigated result for the protection of the public
After a long process, Bill 141 amending the Real Estate Brokerage Act has just been adopted by the National Assembly. As a regulator of real estate and mortgage brokerage, the Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ), which is responsible for the application of this revised Real Estate Brokerage Act, appreciates some of the changes made, such as the increase of disciplinary fines, but regrets in particular that consumers are kept in the dark on the fact that they do not benefit from the protections offered by the Real Estate Brokerage Act when dealing with for-sale-by-owner companies.
In fact, a survey conducted by the firm Synopsis with 1,015 respondents in November 2017, revealed that 71% of consumers believe that they benefit, or do not know if they benefit, from the protections offered by the Real Estate Brokerage Act when dealing with for-sale-by-owner companies that are not supervised by the OACIQ.
“The OACIQ has repeatedly raised this confusion with the government, including by showing the growing number of consumer complaints received by the OACIQ in relation to problems encountered or the significant number of lawsuits brought before courts for enlisting the services of for-sale-by-owner companies.
Despite the OACIQ’s proposals to impose a legislative obligation on these companies, to indicate in their contracts and ads that their services are not supervised by the OACIQ and that consumers do not benefit from the protections offered by the Real Estate Brokerage Act, we are forced to see that this obligation is not yet required. As a result, many consumers do not make an informed choice when they decide to sell or buy a home.
The choice to deal or not with a professional duly trained and supervised by a regulator rests with consumers. And to do this, consumers must have a clear picture of the protections available to them in order to make the best decisions concerning them,” insists Nadine Lindsay, President and CEO of the OACIQ.
However, recognizing the merits of this request, the Finance Minister, Mr. Carlos Leitão, proposed to his colleague, Mrs. Lise Thériault, Minister responsible for Consumer Protection and Housing, to entrust the Office de la protection du consommateur (OPC) with a clear mandate in this regard. The OACIQ wants the interest of consumer protection to motivate the Ministry to act quickly on this matter and it has already offered its full cooperation in this important project.
The OACIQ is pleased to see that the minimum threshold for fines imposed by the Discipline Committee on offending brokers or agencies will increase from $1,000 to $2,000, while the maximum threshold will go from $12,500 to $50,000, allowing the strengthening of the real estate brokerage supervision. In addition, the minimum fine for illegal real estate brokerage will increase from $1,500 to $2,500, whereas the maximum threshold will triple, going from $20,000 to $62,500.
“Even though the vast majority of brokers comply with the Real Estate Brokerage Act, as our regular preventive inspections allow us to see, we are particularly pleased that the government has retained our recommendation to have an even more deterrent disciplinary effect.” says Nadine Lindsay, President and Chief Executive Officer.
An essential mission
"In the coming months during which the provisions of Bill 141 will be incorporated into the practices of licence holders, consumers dealing with a real estate or mortgage broker will be able to carry out their transactions without a hitch, knowing that the OACIQ will ensure that they continue to benefit from the protections offered by the Real Estate Brokerage Act,” concludes Nadine Lindsay.