Buying and selling property are among the biggest financial decisions many people make in their lives. The government of Ontario recently proposed real estate laws that would target the behaviour of salespersons and brokerages. The move is designed to protect sellers and buyers from bias or fraud in making important real estate decisions. While the proposed real estate law will tighten regulations, the government will not move forward with a full ban against real estate agents representing both ends of a sale, a practice known as double-ending.
The proposed changes will affect regulations for salespersons, brokers and brokerages representing more than one party in a real estate deal. The rule changes could include more up-front disclosures for consumers. Enforcement of rules will also be considered. The legislation would also raise fines to a maximum of $50,000 for individual salespersons and up to $100,000 for brokerages.
Although many people supported a complete banning of double-ending, the government noted that it would be an unfair regulation in some cases. For example, they noted that rural Ontario towns may only have one real estate agent. They also recognized that a specialized agent may be involved on both sides of a transaction in cases where certain expertise is essential, such as industrial real estate.
As consumer protection rules continue to be proposed and refined, professionals should maintain an up-to-date understanding about the regulations governing their industry. Similarly, real estate buyers and sellers should understand what rights and responsibilities they have when working with a real estate agent or brokerage. Those who have questions about Ontario real estate law are advised to contact a lawyer.
Source: CBC News, "Ontario moves to tighten rules around real estate agents 'double-ending,' but won't ban the practice", Oct. 5, 2017