Consumers’ Frequently Asked Questions
If you have a question about a licensee, a real estate transaction, or about strata management, check the information below for brief answers to many common questions.
If your question is not covered here, you may find answers in one of our informative consumer guides. Or, contact the Council directly to make your enquiry.
To view an answer, simply click on the arrow beside each question
Questions about Licensees
If you have been involved in a trade in real estate in which you believe a real estate licensee may have acted improperly, or you have engaged a brokerage to provide you with rental property management or strata management services, and believe that licensee has not acted properly, you may contact the Real Estate Council to file a complaint.
The Real Estate Council is not empowered to resolve commission disputes, make monetary settlements or adjudicate contract matters. To find out more, read Making a Complaint About a Licensee or contact the Council and request a Complaints Package at 604-683-9664, toll-free 1-877-683-9664, or by email at [email protected]
Sellers and their licensees have an obligation to disclose known latent defects to buyers. A latent defect is one that is not obvious on a reasonable inspection of the property and which would have a substantial impact on the buyer’s use or enjoyment of the property. If a buyer believes that information about a known latent defect has been withheld by the seller or the seller’s licensee, legal advice should be obtained.
Use our online Licensee Search to verify if an individual has a valid BC real estate licence. Our database will tell you whether a particular individual or company is licensed, the kind of real estate services they are licensed to provide, and their business contact information. Only information related to currently licensed individuals is available.
Disciplinary orders are posted here. The Council does not provide information about whether complaints have been filed about individuals; only orders related to a finding of professional misconduct are posted.
Questions about Real Estate Transactions
The Real Estate Services Act states that a real estate brokerage holds deposits with respect to a trade in real estate as a stakeholder. The money is held for the transaction and not on behalf of one of the parties. If a party does not remove a subject clause, or the trade is for some other reason not going to complete, the brokerage requires the signature of both the buyer and seller in order to release the deposit. If either party will not agree to the release of the deposit, then the parties may have to apply to court for a determination of the deposit issue. You may also want to refer to the “Information about the contract” section of the Contract of Purchase and Sale under #2 – Deposits.
Occasionally, a brokerage may be unable to trace individuals whose money they hold in trust. Section 32 of the Real Estate Services Act permits a brokerage to transfer such money to the administrator appointed under the Unclaimed Property Act if the brokerage has made reasonable efforts to locate and notify the person entitled to claim the money and, despite these efforts, the money has remained unclaimed for more than one year. For further information about money held under the Unclaimed Property Act, visit the BC Unclaimed Property Society website.
The listing contract is a legally binding contract and you have to get the agreement of the other party in order to cancel the obligations that contract has created. If you cannot get that agreement, you may wish to seek legal advice.
Once accepted by the seller and buyer, a Contract of Purchase and Sale becomes a binding agreement that creates certain responsibilities that each party has agreed to accept and/or perform. A seller or buyer should always obtain legal advice prior to taking any action that may place them in breach of a contract.
Strata Management Questions
On January 1, 2006, strata management became an activity for which a real estate licence is required and the conduct of licensed strata managers became subject to the requirements of the Real Estate Services Act, over which the Real Estate Council has jurisdiction. However, the Strata Property Act, the legislation that governs the rights and obligations of strata corporations, strata councils and strata owners, remains a self-administered statute and there are no enforcement provisions for the Government of BC or the Real Estate Council. Under the Strata Property Act, it is up to the owners themselves, with the possible assistance of the courts or an arbitrator and/or mediator, to resolve disputes and ensure compliance with the provisions of the Strata Property Act.
Strata managers act under the direction of the strata council of the strata corporation, by which they are engaged. It is the strata corporation as a whole that is the client of the strata manager, not the individual owners. Therefore, if individual strata owners have concerns about a strata manager, they are advised to first take their concerns to their strata council for resolution and any action the strata council may see fit to take. This may include the strata council submitting a complaint to the Real Estate Council with respect to the conduct of the strata manager if the strata council believes the strata manager has committed professional misconduct or conduct unbecoming a licensee under the Real Estate Services Act.
In most cases, the Real Estate Council requires complaints regarding the performance of licensed strata managers to be submitted by strata councils, accompanied by a copy of the minutes of the strata council meeting that confirms the passing of a motion to submit such a complaint to the Real Estate Council. Notwithstanding the above policy, the Council will on a case-by-case basis investigate a complaint by an individual if the individual provides sufficient evidence, or where the Council identifies during a preliminary enquiry, that the licensee may have committed professional misconduct as defined in the Real Estate Services Act.
Strata corporations may self-manage without being licensed. This self-management may be undertaken by strata lot owners within the strata corporation. Sections 2.1 and 2.18 of the Real Estate Services Regulation provide for exemptions from licensing for employees of the strata corporation, and for caretakers/managers employed by the strata corporation, respectively. The details of these exemption sections may be reviewed by viewing the Real Estate Services Regulation.
Section 5-1 of the Rules requires a brokerage wishing to provide strata management services to a strata corporation to enter into a written service agreement with that client unless the client does not wish to do so. If such an agreement is entered into, section 5-1 outlines a number of typical issues which must be addressed in that agreement. It does not dictate how those issues are to be addressed. That is a matter of negotiation between the parties.
Some strata management brokerages may prefer to enter into a ‘standard’ agreement which has been created by a law firm on behalf of strata management associations, knowing that this agreement addresses the issues required to be addressed by section 5-1 of the Rules. However, strata corporations are at liberty to negotiate how any or all of the matters set out in section 5-1 are to be established. Strata corporations may wish to obtain independent legal advice with respect to the service agreement they are been asked to enter into.
No. As with other aspects of the services that a strata manager may provide, this is a matter of negotiation between the strata corporation and the brokerage. If a brokerage is to collect and hold funds on behalf of the strata corporation, those funds must be kept in a separate trust account in the name of the brokerage on behalf of the client e.g. ABC Strata Management Co. in trust for VR 12777. If the brokerage is to also collect and hold special levy and/or contingency reserve funds on behalf of the strata corporation, those funds must be held in at least one other separate trust account.
Common Licensing Scenarios
Click here for common trading services (sales) licensing scenarios.
Click here for common rental property management licensing scenarios.
Click here for common strata management licensing scenarios.