Quebec is one of several provinces – including B.C., Ontario and Newfoundland – that is currently reviewing its legislation that governs real estate in the province.
The Organisme d’autoréglementation du courtage immobilier du Québec (OACIQ), the regulator created in 2010 by the Real Estate Brokerage Act (REBA), is urging the government to adopt Bill 141 “to better protect members of the public in their real estate or mortgage transactions,” says the organization in a statement.
Nadine Lindsay, president and CEO of the OACIQ, says she welcomes the government’s desire to significantly increase fines for brokers who violate REBA. “The OACIQ will thus be able to better exercise its unique and exclusive mission of protecting the public by having a more deterrent effect against offenders.”
The OACIQ says that Quebec residents can sell a property by themselves, through a for-sale-by-owner company or with a real estate broker. “The OACIQ respects the choice of members of the public to carry out their real estate transactions in the way they want. However, the organization would like members of the public to be able to make an informed choice in this regard, whereas presently there is confusion,” says Lindsay.
The regulator says a survey shows that 71 per cent of people believe that they benefit or do not know if they benefit from the protections provided by the Real Estate Brokerage Act when dealing with a for-sale-by-owner company. “Every week, the OACIQ receives several assistance requests from members of the public who wrongly believe that it is possible for the regulator to intervene in their case,” it says. “To stem this false sense of public protection, the OACIQ asked the government to clarify the notion of brokerage transaction, which can only be performed by a broker. For-sale-by-owner companies should also be required to indicate in their communications that members of the public do not benefit from the protections under the REBA when dealing with them.”
The OACIQ also says the supervision of rental brokerage must be maintained to fight tax evasion and ensure harmonization with other Canadian jurisdictions, all of which require a licence. The protections that are currently set out in the Real Estate Brokerage Act should not be removed from the public, it says.
The regulator is also questioning the government’s intention to transfer the oversight and control of mortgage brokerage to the Autorité des marchés financiers, rather than by granting the necessary powers to the OACIQ. “In addition to avoiding regulatory duplication, this would allow the public to continue benefiting from a uniform and coherent protection regime under the same regulator and an access to a single window to deal with each of the aspects of real estate and mortgage transactions that are closely related,” it says.
The OACIQ says it is in favour of improving its governance and proposes three recommendations. To maintain the self-regulatory model, it says the OACIQ’s board of directors should be made up mostly of licence holders. Directors must also be able to elect the president from among all the members of the board of directors based on his or her skills, it says. The regulator proposes to maintain regional representation within the board to ensure skills are complementary.