Whose Rule is it Anyway? Important Information for Accessing Properties Image

Whose Rule is it Anyway? Important Information for Accessing Properties


by James Porter, RECA Investigations Manager

Most real estate licensees are aware that the Real Estate Act Rules (Rules) specify how licensees must conduct themselves when it comes to their relationships with their clients, whether buyers or sellers. Rule 41, for example, states that licensees must act honestly and provide competent service. While Rule 42 outlines how licensees must not engage in conduct that undermines public confidence in the industry, harms the integrity of the industry, or brings the industry into disrepute.

Yet did you know real estate licensees are also bound by the property sellers’ specific instructions when accessing a property for sale, regardless of whether the licensee represents the seller or interested buyers? Seller’s instructions may include the maximum number of people allowed to enter their property, the specific time the buyer licensee may enter, or even if anyone is prohibited from accessing certain areas of the property?

When a property is listed, the seller has the right to specify the rules they wish to be followed when real estate licensees representing a buyer have been given permission to enter their property. The seller’s licensee must relay their clients’ restrictions to any buyer licensee who wishes to access the property for a viewing. It is the buyer licensee’s responsibility to ensure the seller’s wishes are being followed by anyone who enters the property.

Violating seller’s instructions could cause either licensee to be in violation of the Rules above (or other Rules) and if found in breach, they could become subject to fines or disciplinary action.

The following are several examples RECA has seen where licenses have either knowingly or unknowingly violated a property seller’s instructions when accessing property.

Property Access Violations

  • licensees accessing properties with more than the maximum amount of people permitted
    Sometimes sellers restrict the number of people they will allow in their property at one showing. If the number of people you want to bring to a showing is above the maximum amount, you must ask permission of the seller to bring more people.

  • licensees who have obtained permission to show a property for a specific purposes cannot show the property for another purpose
    You must ensure you have obtained permission from the seller for the specific purpose to access the property, e.g., if you were granted a long showing period to show a property to a client you cannot use that time to have a property inspector access the property. If that purpose changes, you must go back to the seller to ask permission for the revised purpose.

  • licensees allowing a property inspector or a buyer to come into a property unaccompanied
    Unless otherwise agreed to by the seller, you are obligated to supervise anyone you bring into a property that has been placed in your care and control.

As you can see, it is important for real estate licensees to be acutely aware of the seller’s instructions when they enter a property. These instructions are not the same for each seller, so each time licensees enter a property, it is critical they familiarize themselves with the access rules that seller has listed. It is also a licensee’s responsibility to supervise all parties who accompany them when visiting a property. This includes any buyer clients or their family members, home inspectors or any other contractors.

Until possession day, the property for sale is owned by the seller and they have the right to outline the rules that must be followed when anyone walks through the doors. For more information on a licensee’s responsibilities when accessing property, see this Information Bulletin – Access to Property.