We spoke to Bruce Matthews, the deputy registrar of the Real Estate Council of Ontario about the complaints process, and what agents can do to upkeep the integrity of the profession.
“It’s important to remember that a complaint only alleges misconduct,” Matthews tells REP
. “When RECO receives a complaint regarding conduct within in its jurisdiction it notifies the registrant that is the subject of the complaint and requests a written response to get their account of what happened. Then, if necessary, RECO will conduct further investigation.”
Indeed, real estate councils are nothing if not fair. Matthews says all complaints are different and are handled on a case-by-case basis. The general process, however, is the same.
First, the complainant submits a written complaint – the forms for such complaints are found on all council websites. In Ontario, the form is two pages long and, barring the detailed explanation of the issue, takes fewer than 10 minutes to complete.
Once RECO receives the complaint, it will open an investigation that involves contacting the accused to obtain his or her side of the story.
“As the regulator, it is essential that we be thorough and fair in our complaint handling,” Matthews says.
RECO, like many other boards, does not offer a timeline for the process. A thorough investigation with many moving parts is unpredictable, and each complaint is different.
“The time required to process a complaint cannot be pre-determined – it depends on the nature of the allegations and the complexity and seriousness of the issue,” Matthews explains. “It takes time to get every account of what happened and do the proper due diligence before reaching a decision.”
After the investigation is completed, the council decides on a course of action. In Ontario, there are 10 possible outcomes: no action, consent to conditions, mediation, a written warning, education, a referral to discipline committee, immediate suspension, a registrar’s proposal, a director’s action or provincial offences prosecution.
One of the greatest complaints around agent circles centres on those sales reps who lack integrity, and the real estate councils’ apparent apathy.