Stepping up Fines for Lock Box Offences
The RECO Discipline Committee just assessed an $8,500.00 fine in the following circumstances:
- The Buyers’ Agent contacted the Listing Brokerage to arrange a final walkthrough for the Buyer prior to closing
- The appointment was arranged between the hours of 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm on June 24, 2017
- The lockbox code was provided
- The property was otherwise empty
- The Buyers attended
- The Buyers’ Agent didn’t attend
Therefore the Buyers were left unsupervised in the house
Earlier fines in the range of $2,500.00 to $$3,000.00 were found not to be a deterrent.
So, this steps up the fine almost threefold.
Whether or not it works, who knows! Only time will tell.
This is a breach of sections 4, 5 and 39 of the Code of Ethics:
4. A registrant shall promote and protect the best interests of the registrant’s clients.
Conscientious and competent service, etc.
5. A registrant shall provide conscientious service to the registrant’s clients and customers and shall demonstrate reasonable knowledge, skill, judgment and competence in providing those services.
Unprofessional conduct, etc.
39. A registrant shall not, in the course of trading in real estate, engage in any act or omission that, having regard to all of the circumstances, would reasonably be regarded as disgraceful, dishonourable, unprofessional or unbecoming a registrant.
The Buyers’ Agent was ordered to pay a penalty of $8,500.00 on or before September 18, 2019.
Remember here, that the offence took place on 24 June 2017, so this is really two years and 3 months to pay.
The matter wasn’t resolved until September 2018, one year and three months after the offence occurred. That’s a long time.
This really amounts to breaking and entering under the Criminal Code. It’s much more serious than simply a minor Code infraction.
To prevent this in the future a Seller may consider reporting it to the police who won’t become involved with the “niceties” of the Code of Ethics; they are far more likely to look through the Criminal Code for guidance.
In addition, the most appropriate section of the Code would have been:
Fairness, honesty, etc.
3. A registrant shall treat every person the registrant deals with in the course of a trade in real estate fairly, honestly and with integrity.
Further, section 38 would also apply:
Error, misrepresentation, fraud, etc.
38. A registrant shall use the registrant’s best efforts to prevent error, misrepresentation, fraud or any unethical practice in respect of a trade in real estate.
Section 3 places emphasis on the offence to the Seller. Sections 4 and 5 really only deal with the exposure to various risks of the Buyers themselves. They didn’t know that they were doing anything wrong, so it’s unlikely that they could ever be convicted of “breaking and entering” or “trespassing” to the extent that they possessed a “guilty mind”. That’s not the case with the registrant acting for the Buyers. Sections 4 and 5 deal with obligations of the Buyers’Agent to the Buyers. This has nothing to do with the Sellers.
Brian Madigan LL.B., Broker