Discipline and Penalties: RECA Can vs RECA Can’t
| February 22, 2016
The Real Estate Council of Alberta gets a lot of feedback from its stakeholders. Sometimes, that feedback is about how we should deal with industry professionals who do something wrong; specifically, what kind and how severe the punishment we give them should be.
Clearly, stakeholders are passionate about how we deal with infractions in the real estate industry. After all, poor behavior, even by just a small group of individuals, can tarnish the reputation of the entire industry.
We want our stakeholders to know RECA is passionate, too. We are passionate about consumer protection and enhancing the professionalism of Alberta’s real estate industry.
But as passionate as we are, and as critical as discipline is, it’s important to keep in mind there are certain things we just don’t have the authority to do. We can’t always take the disciplinary action stakeholders want us to.
RECA regulates the Alberta real estate industry in accordance with the Real Estate Act and the Real Estate Act Rules; the legislation is fundamental to RECA’s operations and disciplinary processes.
Here are just a few of the things RECA can—and cannot—do when it comes to discipline.
- RECA uses the principles of sanction and Schedule 2 of the Bylaws to arrive at appropriate Administrative Penalties. We can’t just pick a monetary penalty outside of those parameters.
- industry professionals can appeal disciplinary action against them… RECA can’t deny them their right to appeal.
- Hearing Panels can suspend industry professionals for serious infractions, but they can’t suspend them indefinitely.
- individuals can choose to take a lifetime withdrawal from Alberta’s real estate industry, which results in a permanent ban, but RECA can’t force an industry professional to take a lifetime withdrawal.
- RECA can and must investigate all written complaints it receives. We can’t simply pick and choose which ones we investigate.
- RECA can only investigate when it receives a complaint or information about a possible breach. RECA can’t just investigate whatever we want whenever we want.
- the only exception to this is our mandate to investigate, detect and suppress mortgage fraud.
- RECA can advise consumers of their ability to apply to the Real Estate Assurance Fund for compensation if they suffered financial loss as a result of fraud, breach of trust, or a failure to disburse or account for money held in trust by an industry member with respect to a trade in real estate or deal in mortgages. RECA itself can’t reimburse consumers or otherwise get them their money back.
- RECA can and does share investigative information with law enforcement agencies, but we can’t charge industry members criminally nor can we make the police charge someone.
Stakeholders may not always agree with us, but an important step for RECA is to create understanding. We hope a greater understanding of what we can and cannot do clarifies and provides context for the action we take.