Working With a Licensed Professional


When unlicensed people carry out activities requiring a licence consumers are at risk. A real estate associate representing your home sale or purchase, or a mortgage associate working to find you a good mortgage rate require a specific licence. 

The benefits of working with a licensed industry professionial:

  1. Knowledge and Ongoing Education: All Alberta industry professionals complete comprehensive pre-licensing education, along with ongoing mandatory professional development to ensure current industry knowledge.
  2. Assurance Fund: This fund protects the financial position of consumers who’ve been the victim of fraud or breach of trust by a licensed industry professional. The fund is supported by licensed Alberta industry professional contributions. It’s important to note that this fund isn’t available for consumers who dealt with unlicensed individuals.
  3. Complaints and Discipline: Licensed Alberta industry professionals follow a standard of practice specified by real estate legislation. However, if a consumer complains about their dealings with an unlicensed person, RECA’s jurisdiction is restricted to investigating whether the person conducted an activity that required a licence. In these cases, RECA cannot discipline for how badly the activity was performed or how greatly the consumer was disadvantaged.

Homeowners selling their own real estate or institutions lending their own money as mortgage funds don’t require a licence.

RECA recommends you confirm the licence status of the real estate or mortgage representative online. If they have a licence history, an explanatory legend and current licence status is displayed. If you see the message “no records match,” it’s time to start asking questions. There may be a simple explanation. You can ask to see their Registration Certificate, speak to their broker or call RECA directly.

The following true stories involve consumers working with unlicensed people. Without Assurance Fund protection they had no recourse but to take legal action or accept their losses. 

Stolen Identity: A young woman’s friend referred her to a real estate associate. In fact, this person was NOT licensed, and therefore not an associate. Yet, the woman had no reason to believe he wasn’t an associate because he gave her a real estate business card and spoke to her as an associate would about buying a house. She agreed with his suggestion to make inquires on her behalf about her mortgage qualification - giving him her personal and financial information. He contacted her a few days later to say she didn’t qualify. This statement was a lie. She did get a mortgage but without her knowledge.

The so called “associate” had used her personal and financial information fraudulently to obtain a mortgage in her name. He kept up the mortgage payments for a little while then let it go into default. The woman was then responsible for the defaulted mortgage with the bank. As stated, the man wasn’t licensed and should never have been trusted with her personal information. HIs phony business card was intended to mislead her. A quick check on RECA’s website would have provided his licence information.

Property Mismanagement: RECA’s investigation of a property management brokerage found their activities to be so improper their licence was suspended. The suspension was published by a RECA news release, however not everyone saw it – including some property owners who had contracts with the suspended brokerage to handle the rental of their units.

The owner of the suspended brokerage soon started up a business under a new name without a licence. He then contacted some of the tenants he previously managed, instructing them to pay their rent to his new “property management” company. The tenants, who had seen the news release refused to pay, soon found themselves served with eviction notices.

When the tenants made direct contact with the rental unit owner to resolve the problem, they often found the owner unaware of the new company’s eviction actions and that they weren’t licensed to legally collect rents. In other cases, tenants moved out but the company failed to inform the owners of the vacancy. Security deposits weren’t returned to either the tenant or the owner. Had the owners checked RECA’s website to ensure the new company had a licence, they may have avoided the problem.