The Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) recently had to deal with the issue of the cancellation of a listing agreement.
The agent apparently indicated that the listing agreement could be cancelled if the client was unhappy.
The client was a elderly homeowner who met with the agent and signed the standard form listing agreement in 2008.
There was a notable problem at the outset. There was no commencement or expiration dates included. The next day, at her office, the agent inserted the dates.
Naturally, the client never received a copy of the listing agreement. She thought it was a 3 month listing, the agent had set it up for almost 6 months.
The listing started on 15 July and ran to 30 December (just under 6 months).
The client contacted the agent and complained in August. The agent agreed to let the client out of the listing if she wasn’t satisfied by 12 September. So, that’s where the matter stood until 15 September when the client sent in a formal request in writing for the cancellation.
Now, the agent seemed to change her mind. Rather than a cancellation, the agent provided a suspension.
There is a notable difference. With a cancellation, the client can re-list with another brokerage and place the property on MLS. However, with a suspension, the client is still stuck with the same agent, if she wants her property on MLS or wishes to secure the services of another agent for the sale.
The client thought that if things didn’t work out, she would be able to have another agent in the Fall. In this case, she was really stuck until the Spring of the following year.
The failure to honour the agreement to cancel the listing resulted in a $10,000.00 fine. How do we know that the agent really agreed to the cancellation? Well, she signed an agreed statement of facts, containing this admission.
Be careful with your promises! Honour them all!
Put them in writing, if requested. Be sure to carry out all your obligations.
In order to get the listing, if you say you will provide a cancellation, then, if you are requested to provide the cancellation, then, provide it. That is the honourable and just way to act. It is also simply fulfilling your legal obligations. It’s the right thing to do.
If you are a client or potential client, get any specific representations or agreements in writing. And, remember there’s a difference between a cancellation and a suspension.
As a rule, I use fictitious names or do not mention the names of the parties. The actual case is published on RECO's website and is available to the public. For educational purposes, the names of the parties really don't have any bearing. If you need to quote the case, you will have to obtain the proper legal citation.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker