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Bill 145, the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, has passed third and final reading. The Bill still needs to receive Royal Assent and be proclaimed into law.

The new Act represents a significant move forward for REALTORS® and is the result of numerous years of concerted efforts by TRREB, OREA and other Ontario real estate boards and associations.

Bill 145 amends the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, bringing forward a series of changes that, if passed, will raise professional standards, strengthen consumer protection and create a stronger business environment for Ontario REALTORS®. Specifically, the new Act, as originally tabled would (note: TRREB will be reviewing the 3rd reading and passed versions of the Act as soon as they are available and will provide any relevant updates, as necessary):

  • Rename the Real Estate and Business Brokers Act, 2002, to the Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2019.
  • Permit real estate professionals to form personal real estate corporations. The timing of when this will take effect is not currently known, but the government has indicated it expects to move forward with this quickly.
  • Continue to allow to multiple representation.
  • Bill 145 updates the powers available to RECO and its Registrar to increase professional standards and enhance compliance across the real estate sector by proposing the following changes.
  • Enable registrants to hold a specialist certification, provided certain criteria have been met.
  • Enable regulatory changes that would permit registrants to disclose details of competing offers, at the seller’s choosing.
    • TRREB raised concerns about the need to ensure that buyers have the ability to consent to this prior to their offer information being disclosed to others. TRREB indicated that, at a minimum, sellers should disclose to buyers BEFORE offers are submitted, if the seller’s intention is to disclose the contents of offers, thereby allowing the buyer to make an informed decision prior to submitting an offer. TRREB has received support and commitment from the government to address this concern.
  • Enable regulatory changes to streamline and modernize the REBBA Code of Ethics to improve professionalism among real estate professionals and brokerages.
  • Replaces the term “customer” with “self-represented party” which is defined as a “party that meets the prescribed criteria.”
  • Enables the addition of regulations pertaining to “Branch Offices.”

TRREB and OREA provided input on the legislation when it was reviewed at the Committee stage of the legislative process, resulting in the following:

New Upcoming Regulation on Advertising re: Salesperson & REALTOR®
On OREA’s request, the Minister has committed to bringing forward a regulation to permit registrants to use the terms “REALTOR®” or “real estate agent” in their advertising to consumers. The existing Code of Ethics regulation under REBBA sets out alternative terms that can be used for advertising purposes by salespersons, brokers, and brokerages. The Minister will amend this regulation to permit the use of REALTOR® or agent in addition to salesperson which gets to the heart of OREA’s proposal to give Members new flexibility in their advertising.

The Government will be seeking input from the public on this proposed amendment through a 30-day public consultation process. Once the proposed change has been made public, Members will be informed so that you can participate in the consultation.

Reducing Standard Forms Red Tape

Under Bill 145, a new power would be given to the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) to approve changes to the industry’s Standard Forms. Concerns were raised by OREA that this change would create new red tape and delay important changes to forms. As a result, the government is proposing an amendment to the Bill that clarifies that only specific forms enshrined in regulation may be approved by the Regulator. The Minister has noted it is her preference that both OREA and RECO work together to strengthen buyer and seller representation agreements. OREA believes this change will avoid additional red tape and ensure that necessary changes to the Standard Forms are made in a timely and appropriate manner.

Next Steps

The legislation still needs to receive Royal Assent and be proclaimed into law. Furthermore, it is important to note that most sections of the Act will require supporting regulations before they come into effect. These dates are not yet known. TRREB will advise Members as soon as more information is available.