The Professional Standards department provides strategic and operational leadership to programs that support RECA's mandate of promoting professional standards and performance improvement solutions to enhance public trust and confidence in Alberta’s real estate industry. Professional Standards is responsible for the Trust Assurance and Practice Review Program (formerly Audit Program), Professional Conduct Review Program (formerly Investigations) and Professional Conduct Proceedings (formerly Legal Services). The Director of Professional Standards oversees staff in these three areas.
Professional Standards facilitates the administration of complaints, practice reviews (investigations) and conduct (disciplinary) processes within the same department and management structure providing continuity from receipt of the complaint to the final outcome. This facilitates greater synergy across staff in these three operational units and further advances communication, cooperation and consistency of approaches to files and solutions in the area of professional standards and practices.
Trust Assurance and Practice Review Program
RECA’s mandate is to set and enforce standards of conduct for the industry. It is also required to provide services that enhance and improve the industry and the business of industry professionals. One of the ways that RECA fulfills this mandate is through its Trust Assurance and Practice Review Program.
The Trust Assurance and Practice Review Program provides positive, constructive assistance to industry professionals with respect to accounting and legislative requirements by:
- providing advice related to trust accounts and record keeping;
- developing effective record keeping and administrative procedures; and,
- identifying and resolving potential problems.
RECA’s Trust Assurance and Practice Review Program also serves to:
- reduce the occurrence of activities in violation of the Real Estate Act or the Rules;
- safeguard the integrity of the licensing system; and,
- reduce the number of claims against the Assurance Fund.
Trust Assurance and Practice Review staff participate in the furtherance of RECA’s strategic plan, which may involve developing audit guides, interpretation guidelines, and changes to forms and legislation.
Professional Conduct Review Program
One of the fundamental responsibilities of any self-regulatory body is to conduct investigations and take disciplinary action when necessary. RECA’s Professional Conduct Review Program conducts two types of investigations. The types of investigations conducted by the Professional Conduct Review Program include:
- investigations into unauthorized activity; and,
- investigations into the conduct of industry professionals.
The Professional Conduct Review Program, led by the Director of Professional Standards, includes a team of staff that is partly composed of former industry professionals from the various industry sectors.
Conduct proceedings staff have primary responsibility for fulfilling the Real Estate Act statutory objectives relating to disciplinary proceedings. They have a mandate to enforce industry conduct standards and protect the public.
Each year, conduct proceedings staff close 80 to 100 disciplinary files. Legal counsel review investigation files to determine whether there is sufficient evidence of conduct deserving of sanction for the matter to be referred to a panel. If there is likely misconduct, counsel will undertake efforts to reach agreement with the industry professional in order to avoid a contested hearing. The parties may enter into a consent agreement. When this is not possible, the matter proceeds to a contested hearing. Appeals and other court action may follow.
The work done by legal counsel is for the purpose of fulfilling the statutory obligations under the Real Estate Act and in furtherance of RECA’s efforts to protect the public.