Voluntarily Coming to a Resolution Image

Voluntarily Coming to a Resolution


There are many good news stories coming out of the Real Estate Council of Alberta’s (RECA) Professional Standards Unit this past year, but one of the most positive steps forward for the industry – and enhanced self-regulation and professionalism – has been the introduction of the Voluntary Broker Resolution Process.

In place for just over a year now, the VBRP provides brokers and industry professionals with the opportunity to resolve disputes with clients or customers on their own, before RECA launches a formal investigation process. The intention of the VBRP is to resolve complaints involving breaches that are of a minor nature. This can help RECA free up conduct review resources that are better directed at complaints of a more serious nature.

The VBRP is a type of complaint resolution process that is managed by the broker. In order for a broker to proceed in this manner, all parties must consent to the process in writing – that includes the industry professional who is the subject of the complaint or whose conduct is at issue AND the complainant.

In some circumstances, RECA may suggest the VBRP after an investigation has been opened. When this occurs, and a successful outcome is achieved, the investigation will be terminated.

Once all parties agree to use of the VBRP, it is important that the parties sign the VBRP Agreement before commencing any negotiations or mediation. Failure to do so may place the broker, the brokerage and the brokerage’s associate or associate broker at risk. It could also result in an insurance provider denying coverage under an E&O professional liability insurance policy.

And while current statistics make it appear that the VBRP isn’t being used extensively, anecdotally, RECA is aware that some brokerages/brokers are proceeding with their own similar alternative dispute resolution processes – outside of RECA’s formal process. Provided those matters are dealt with satisfactorily for the consumer and no complaint is ever made to RECA about the conduct in question, RECA is comfortable that industry professionals are being provided with an opportunity to rectify issues, take responsibility for their actions and work towards even greater professionalism.

For more information about the VBRP, please review the Guide to the Voluntary Broker Resolution Process for Brokers available on the RECA website or speak with your broker.

What steps do you and your broker take to resolve disputes when they arise?