*Updated* Council to begin publishing names of licensees being investigated on December 1

In a bid to improve consumer protection, transparency and disciplinary procedures, the Real Estate Council of BC (RECBC) announced in their October Report from Council newsletter, plans to start publishing  licensee names and details on complaints filed against them, even before Council determines if the complaints were valid, on December 1.

With no intention of concealing the identity of the licensees involved, Council’s investigations, the date and time of upcoming hearings, licence conditions and restrictions and disciplinary decisions will all be published on Council’s public website.

BCREA says Council is taking a misstep in at least one direction. CEO Robert Laing has written a letter to Council expressing alarm that licensees’ identities will be published prior to any rulings determining their culpability.

“We are writing to express our concern that publishing this information before any allegations have been substantiated creates a situation where licensees may be considered guilty before proven innocent,” BCREA wrote. “This is especially true when information is published online and accessible long after a hearing has been concluded, regardless of the outcome.”

BCREA says such information may not only unfairly damage the reputation of a licensee; it may lead to an increase in complaints sent to the provincial Privacy Commissioner, and may result in additional drains on Council’s resources.

BCREA is asking Council to reconsider publishing scheduled hearing notices, with names attached.

Dennis Wilson, FVREB’s Manager of Professional Standards, says there may be circumstances when an individual’s presence in the public realm poses a danger of some kind, at which point it may be necessary to sacrifice personal privacy and reputation. But he says to risk a Realtor’s reputation — so essential to his/her ability to earn a living —based solely on implication instead of fact and thorough investigation, is too far-reaching. He says the risk to a Realtor’s reputation by rumour and speculation of wrong doing is too great, especially at a time when social media is so dominant and influential.

“Everyone has a right to due process,” says Wilson. “Though there are legitimate complaints about licensees, many complaints are without merit or found to be outside the regulatory powers of Council or real estate boards.”

In fact, in the first three months of 2016, Council received 189 complaints about licensees from the public and other Realtors. Of that number, only 25 licensees were disciplined by Council. That leaves 164 licensees with their professional reputations intact. With the move to publishing licensee names, that protection may be unfairly compromised.

Council’s publication policy will also mean that licensees who have been:

  • reprimanded and/or fined up to 20% of the maximum penalty, will have their names published on Council’s website for 5 years.
  • suspended for up to one year, or received a fine greater than 20% of the maximum penalty, will have their names published for 10 years.
  • given suspensions of one year or greater, maximum fines, licence cancellations, or orders in urgent circumstances, will have their names published in perpetuity.

Disciplinary decisions or any conditions or restrictions on the licence of an individual or brokerage will appear in the licensee search results on Council’s website. As well, upcoming notices of hearing will be published on Council’s website, including the licensee’s name, the allegations against them, and the date and time of the scheduled hearing.


BCREA met with Superintendent Micheal Noseworthy and two of his staff on November 29 to express concerns about Council’s new publication policy and discuss BCREA’s submission regarding the Independent Advisory Group’s (IAG) recommendations. The Superintendent thanked BCREA and its member boards for their input and said his office appreciates the willingness to collaborate. He also acknowledged the value in having input from the real estate profession and noted the value in past collaborations. Superintendent Noseworthy clearly stated to BCREA his belief that most licensees represent their clients in a professional and ethical manner.

In response to concerns raised by BCREA about Council’s new publication policy, Superintendent Noseworthy directed Council staff to include the following statement on Council’s website: “A Notice of Hearing is not a finding of guilt or misconduct.” BCREA has subsequently sent a letter to Finance Minister Mike de Jong to acknowledge Council’s efforts, but also reiterate the profession’s concern that Council’s statement may not be enough to prevent a licensee’s reputation from being unfairly tarnished. As for the IAG recommendations, Council is still planning how to best implement them and does not have any update on timing for possible new regulations.

BCREA has created a video explaining the different role of organizations involved in the regulation of real estate licensees in BC, including the provincial Minister of Finance, the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate and the Real Estate Council of BC. You can view it on the bottom of this page.