Document Retention Guidelines

Guidelines
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  • Guidelines

    BCFSA’s Guidelines provide a practical application of the information and give suggested best practice guidance to assist real estate professionals. These guidelines provide BCFSA’s interpretation of RESA and all other applicable legislation.

    In addition, BCFSA’s Guidelines may be a useful information source for the general public looking for information about standards of conduct for real estate professionals.

Purpose

RESA and the Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”) require brokerages to retain a number of documents related to the provision of real estate services. This guide will help you understand what a real estate professional should do with their copies of transaction documents, how document retention impacts client privacy obligations and whether a brokerage has an obligation to retain copies of documents that are transferred to another brokerage.

  1. Understanding the circumstances that would require a real estate professional to retain copies of brokerage documents.
  2. How to protect client information.
  3. Transferring strata and rental property management records.

Guidelines

Understanding the Circumstances that Would Require a Real Estate Professional to Retain Copies of Brokerage Documents

Although the regulatory framework does not require a real estate professional to retain copies of documents that they submit under the Real Estate Services Rules to the brokerage, there is other legislation that may require you to either keep specific documents or written records.

For example, the Canada Revenue Agency or other government agencies may need to review documents for tax purposes, which would require that you be able to supply evidence of your income. It would be prudent to speak to an accountant to ensure that you are retaining all the information you need.

How to Protect Client Information

Your brokerage is required to maintain client confidentiality. Confidentiality is one of the only duties that extends beyond the termination of an agency relationship. When it comes to brokerage records, you must ensure that the brokerage stores its documents in a way that ensures that the confidentiality of client information is maintained.

This also applies to any documents that you as a real professional retain for tax and other purposes. Any information that is accessed by someone that is not or was not the designated agent of that brokerage client is a violation of the duty of confidentiality.

The requirement to ensure client confidentiality with electronic records extends beyond just saving the documents with password protection. Where you choose to store your information is also important: RESA requires that all documents, including electronic records, be stored in the province of B.C.

There is no way to guarantee you are maintaining current and past client confidentiality if your documents are stored on servers located in another country and subject to other laws.

Learn more about confidentiality

Transferring Strata and Rental Property Management Records

If your brokerage provides either rental property management services or strata management services and the services have been terminated, the Real Estate Services Rules set out a detailed procedure for the transfer of the records maintained by the brokerage.

Once your brokerage ceases acting on behalf of your client, the Real Estate Services Rules requires your brokerage provide financial records and invoices as prescribed under the Real Estate Services Rules to your former client or their new brokerage, if applicable. After the effective date of the termination of a service agreement, your brokerage must also promptly transfer control of the client’s money to the client or the new brokerage they have engaged, if applicable. Your brokerage may retain sufficient funds to pay outstanding and anticipated invoices related to expenses incurred on behalf of a strata corporation before the termination of the service agreement.

Even though all documents will be provided to the parties after the termination of the service agreement, your brokerage must prepare the financial records that relate to the receipt and disbursement of all funds by the brokerage while the brokerage was acting on behalf of the client. Your brokerage must also retain a copy of all documents outlined in the retention of records section of the Real Estate Services Rules.

Managing Broker Considerations

This guideline was primarily written for managing brokers. There are no additional managing broker considerations.

Applicable Section of RESA/Real Estate Services Regulation/Real Estate Services Rules

  • Section 30, Real Estate Services Rules, Duties to clients
  • Part 8, Real Estate Services Rules, Brokerage records

Definitions

No definitions identified for this guideline