Risks associated with advertising property use or construction

The FVREB has received concerns that its members may be advertising unlawful property situations – possibly as selling features for listed properties. This includes advertising which references construction and property uses that are not in accordance with local government’s rules.

An example would be advertising a detached shop/coach house for a property where this use is not permitted under the applicable by-laws, especially if building permits also were not issued for this construction. What might have been intended to be a selling feature can actually be a risk.

Proper advertising helps ensure that individuals are not misled or otherwise caught off guard when enforcement action is taken by a local government in respect of unlawful construction or property use. Such enforcement action could include ensuring the necessary approvals are obtained, or the removal of non-compliant construction at the owner’s expense.

Note that some local governments are taking a proactive response to verify that appropriate permits have been obtained and the land use is permitted.

To address this issue, first of all you should have appropriate knowledge of the relevant rules regarding, among other things, construction and use of properties. Zoning by-laws, for example, can restrict and regulate the number and type of dwelling units permitted in a jurisdiction. Building by-laws, as another example, can require building permits to be obtained from the proper authority for almost all construction.

Additionally, once you have made yourself familiar with the records for a property and discussed it with the client, your advertising claims or offerings must be accurate (including an accurate reflection of property and other details) and must not be false or misleading, prohibited by law, or restricted by the seller, and signage must also be in compliance with all local government signage regulations. Otherwise, you may be in contravention of the REALTOR® Code and/or the Rules of Cooperation and become the subject of an investigation and discipline by the FVREB’s Professional Conduct Committee.

The FVREB appreciates your cooperation and efforts in support of professionalism.

Source: FVREB Professional Standards