August 22nd - 2015

RECO: Registrant switches brokerages and changes lawn signs

The registrant moved to a new brokerage and changed the lawn signs on properties for clients whom he had represented through his old brokerage. Read the decision from the Real Estate Council of Ontario after complaints were submitted.

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The registrant moved to a new brokerage and changed the lawn signs on properties for clients whom he had represented through his old brokerage. Read the decision from the Real Estate Council of Ontario after complaints were submitted.

RECOThe following decision from RECO Discipline and Appeal Hearings has been condensed. All individual and corporate names have been changed. 

THE FACTS

Jim is a salesperson with Vita Realty. He previously worked at Alum Realty as a salesperson, but he terminated his employment with Alum and transferred his registration over to Vita Realty.

Soon afterwards, Jim contacted certain Alum clients whom he had worked with and requested that they cancel their listing agreements with Alum and transfer those listings over to Vita Realty. Jim then went to a property on Dalton Street that was listed with Alum Realty on the local real estate board’s MLS® System. He removed Alum’s “For Sale” sign from the front lawn and put up a Vita “For Sale” sign in its place.

The seller of the Dalton Street property then contacted the Alum brokerage and spoke with Lisa, a salesperson who had been working on that property. The seller asked about the cancellation of the listing agreement with that brokerage. Subsequently, Tom, the broker of record for Alum, contacted RECO to complain.

Lisa stated that Jim had interfered with the Dalton Street listing without consent from the brokerage. Tom agreed, adding that Jim had also interfered with four other properties listed with Alum without the knowledge or consent of the first brokerage. Jim had removed the Alum “Sold” signs from those four other properties and replaced them with Vita “Sold” signs.

In response to the complaints, Jim took the position that REBBA should be modified to include the team method of doing business and since he and his team at Alum had a large number of the listings and his team had left that brokerage, that business should be transferred to them.

According to Jim, he and his team had done the work on those properties and Alum had played no role except for the accounting aspects. Jim also stated that he had obtained the clients’ permission to transfer their business to Vita Realty. Lastly, according to Jim, RECO had no business getting involved in an employee agreement between him and Lisa.


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THE FINDINGS

The RECO panel determined that Jim acted unprofessionally when he posted Vita Realty “For Sale” and “Sold” signs on properties listed by or sold by Alum Realty, as well as when he took down Alum Realty’s signs, without their knowledge or permission. In addition, removing and replacing these signs provided false and misleading information to the public. 

The panel ruled that Jim breached the following sections of the REBBA 2002 Code of Ethics:  (3) Fairness, honesty, etc.; (7) Dealings with other registrants; and (39) Unprofessional conduct, etc.  

THE PENALTY

Jim was ordered to pay RECO a fine of $12,500 and to successfully complete the Real Estate Institute of Canada (REIC) Ethics and Business Practice Course.  The full case can be viewed at www.reco.on.ca. Click on “Complaints & Enforcement” then scroll down to “Regulatory Activities and Decisions.”  Then click on “Discipline & Appeals Decisions.”  Go to “Search by year.”  Select 2013, hit “search” and look under cases dated 2013/09/06.

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Ontario Real Estate Association

Jean-Adrien Delicano

Manager, Media Relations

JeanAdrienD@orea.com

416-445-9910 ext. 246