Our Mission is Consumer Protection
Message from the Chair
Our Mission is Consumer Protection
The purpose of the Real Estate Council is to serve the public interest and protect consumers by ensuring that real estate licensees are competent professionals serving their clients’ best interests, that complaints are investigated in a fair and thorough manner, and that licensees are appropriately disciplined for any wrongful actions. As we near the end of a transformational year for the British Columbia real estate industry, for buyers and sellers, and for the regulatory body charged with upholding the Real Estate Services Act, it is worth taking a moment to reflect on our mandate, and the actions we take to pursue it.
The public’s message has been clear: regulatory change was needed. Following the amendments introduced to the Real Estate Services Act this summer, the Council along with the Superintendent of Real Estate has been working hard to deliver that change. One new measure announced recently was to increase the transparency of the Council’s disciplinary processes by publishing Notices of Hearing ahead of scheduled disciplinary hearings. About 100 years ago, a wise judge wrote that “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants … ” Canada’s Supreme Court recently quoted that and said, “Open government requires that the citizenry be granted access to government records when it is necessary to meaningful public debate on the conduct of government institutions.”
Since the announcement about publishing Notices of Hearing, some real estate licensees have expressed concern to the Council that such publicity could be taken to suggest that real estate licensees accused of misconduct are not being presumed innocent until proven guilty. Far from it.
In fact, providing the public with access to information about disciplinary hearings is one of the most important ways that the Real Estate Council ensures that the disciplinary process for real estate licensees is fair and transparent. The Council’s investigative and disciplinary processes are carefully designed to balance the licensee’s right to a fair process with the public’s right to access accurate information. And when members of the public can easily find information about the regulation of real estate licensees, they know they can have confidence in the professionals they turn to for help when buying or selling their homes.
Other licensees have asked us, “Will the Council publish my name if a consumer complains about me?” Complaints are not public – only hearings and disciplinary decisions. The Council’s investigations are confidential, to protect the privacy of both the complainant and the licensee. Make sure you read “10 Things You Need to Know About Complaints, Investigations, and Council Discipline” in this issue to clear up this and other common misconceptions about the discipline process.
Finally, I’d like to welcome the newest member of the Real Estate Council: Len Hrycan. Len was appointed to the Council for a two-year term, beginning December 2, 2016. Len’s qualifications and background, with over 30 years in local government administration, will add significantly to the depth of knowledge and experience of the Council. You can learn more about Len and all the newly-appointed members on the Council Members page of our website.
We look forward to working together in the new year, continuing to learn about the complex and vital evolution of the real estate industry in our province, and striving to ensure that consumers are well-protected, well-informed, and well-served by real estate professionals.
Robert Holmes, Chair