On March 9, the BC legislature approved changes to the Real Estate Services Act (RESA) contained in Bill 8: Finance Statutes Amendment Act, 2021. None of the changes will take effect immediately.
Over the next weeks and months, BCREA will work with the regulators to understand the impact of all of the changes and to provide input at every opportunity. This article summarizes a few key amendments.
The biggest shift is that the legislation enables the amalgamation of the Office of the Superintendent of Real Estate (OSRE) and the Real Estate Council of British Columbia into the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA). Many of the amendments transfer authority for various matters to the BCFSA and the new superintendent (BCFSA CEO Blair Morrison).
Amalgamation is expected to take place this summer, though a firm date hasn’t yet been set.
Real Estate Rules
The BCFSA will have the authority to create and amend the Real Estate Rules (currently, this is done by OSRE). There will be more structure around Rule changes, including approval from the Minister of Finance and compliance with the Regulations Act.
For the first three years, the BCFSA will be able to make minor changes to the Rules without conducting public consultations. Rules that make substantive changes to real estate practice will require the standard minimum 30-day consultation period.
Several changes were made to discipline procedures, including:
- Elimination of discipline committees – Discipline hearings are currently carried out by discipline committees. After amalgamation, hearings will be carried out by individual discipline officers (likely lawyers).
- Expanded administrative penalties – Currently, OSRE can designate breaches of the Rules that can be subject to administrative penalties. In the future, this will fall to BCFSA, which will be able to designate offences under RESA and the regulations, as well as the Rules to qualify for administrative penalties. The maximum penalty amount will double from $50,000 (which has been in place since 2016) to $100,000 and the actual amount owed may vary depending on whether a licensee pays the penalty within 30 days.
- Elimination of expiry dates for consent orders – Licensees subject to discipline hearings will be able to negotiate consent orders right up until the time of a hearing (right now, proposals must be submitted to RECBC 21 days before the hearing).
- Elimination of automatic stays of discipline orders – Right now, when a licensee appeals a disciplinary decision to the Financial Services Tribunal, the disciplinary order is automatically stayed (suspended). In the future, that will not be the case, though a licensee or the regulator will have the option to apply for a stay.
On March 10, we wrote to Minister of Finance Selina Robinson with significant concerns and requesting further legislative amendments relating to the elimination of discipline committees and the regulator’s authority to remove records during an investigation. We’ll continue to work with the ministry to resolve our concerns.
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