I heard that if someone calls themselves a “contractor,” they don’t need to have a licence to provide property management services. Is that true?

No, that’s not true. The truth is it doesn’t matter what a person calls themselves. If they are providing property management services and they are not the owner of the property or an employee of the owner, they require a licence from the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA).

The Real Estate Act, which RECA administers, defines property management as:

Licensed property managers can find suitable tenants, deal with nuisance tenants, draft lease agreements, and regularly inspect and maintain property on behalf of a property owner. It is up to property managers and the property owners to negotiate the specific tasks the property manager will provide, but ultimately, before providing property management services, the property manager needs a licence.

Property manager licensing provides vital protection for property owners. Individuals must complete comprehensive education before becoming licensed as a property manager, they must also provide a Certified Criminal Record Check to RECA prior to receiving a licence, and there are ongoing education requirements.

If a property owner is working with a licensed property manager, they have the added protection of the Consumer Compensation Fund. The Fund compensates consumers who suffer a 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 in connection with a real estate trade, mortgage deal, or property management services.

If you work with an unlicensed property manager, and the property manager disappears and takes rental payments or damage deposits with them, your only recourse is through the courts.

As a property owner, you’re not required to hire someone to manage your rental or investment property, but if you do, take steps to protect yourself. Ensure that the company and individual you hire are licensed to provide property management services in Alberta. You can check if someone is licensed through RECA’s website at www.reca.ca.

“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by Charles Stevenson, Director of Professional Standards with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), www.reca.ca. RECA is the independent, non-government agency responsible for the regulation of Alberta’s real estate industry. We license, govern, and set the standards of practice for all real estate, mortgage brokerage, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. To submit a question, email askcharles@reca.ca.

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