Unlicensed Assistants Guidelines

Guidelines
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assistant working with another team member
  • 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.

If you hire an unlicensed assistant, you are responsible for ensuring that any tasks or projects assigned to them, do not cross into activities that require a licence from BCFSA. Having an employment contract with the brokerage that details what the unlicensed assistant is being hired to do can help protect you should suspicion arise that your assistant has been trading without a license.

You must remember that having an assistant who will be privy to your clients’ confidential information is material information that must be shared with your client. It is always advisable to make these disclosures in writing to protect you should a complaint be filed with BCFSA.

Purpose

This guideline will help you understand what services unlicensed assistants can provide and what services unlicensed assistants may not participate in. These services will vary depending on the real estate sector you work in.

  1. Knowing what trading services unlicensed assistants employed by real estate professionals can do.
  2. Knowing what rental property management unlicensed assistants employed by a brokerage can do.
  3. Knowing what strata management services unlicensed assistants employed by a brokerage can do.
  4. Understanding the risks of hiring an unlicensed assistant who also works at another brokerage.

Guidelines

Knowing What Trading Services Unlicensed Assistants Employed by Real Estate Professionals Can Do

(a) What an Unlicensed Assistant Can Do

Unlicensed assistants can:

  • Answer the telephone, take messages, and forward calls to a real estate professional;
  • Schedule appointments for the real estate professional (this does not include making telephone calls, telemarketing, or performing other activities to solicit business on behalf of the real estate professional);
  • Secure public information from a courthouse, municipality, regional district, or other source of public information;
  • Place or remove signs on property;
  • Submit listings and changes, as approved by a real estate professional, to a multiple listing service;
  • Have keys made for a brokerage’s listing;
  • Unlock a property in order that it may be shown by a real estate professional;
  • Draft advertising copy, promotional materials, and correspondence for approval by a real estate professional (correspondence must be signed by the real estate professional);
  • Place advertising with approval of a real estate professional;
  • Prepare and distribute flyers and promotional information under the direction of and with approval by a real estate professional;
  • Act as a courier to deliver documents, pick up keys, etc.;
  • Be in attendance at a property during a real estate professional tour which is not open to the public so long as the unlicensed assistant does not answer any questions or offer any information beyond what has been provided, in writing, by the seller’s brokerage;
  • Gather feedback from real estate professionals on showings;
  • Complete contract forms with information at the direction of and with approval by a real estate professional;
  • Witness signatures;
  • Assemble documents for a closing;
  • Follow up on a trade in real estate after a contract has been signed by:
    • Arranging and/or allowing access to property for a property inspector or appraiser; or
    • Providing other similar facilitation services that would not otherwise require licensing
  • Perform bookkeeping or office functions, including
    • Record and deposit trust funds, including transaction deposits, security deposits and rents;
    • Compute remuneration cheques and perform bookkeeping activities;
    • Monitor licences and personnel files; and
    • Office filing; or
  • Perform other administrative, clerical, and personal activities for which a licence under RESA is not required.

(b) What Unlicensed Assistants Cannot Do

Unlicensed assistants cannot:

  • Host open houses, kiosks, or home show booths;
  • Solicit buyers, sellers, landlords, or tenants;
  • Show property;
  • Respond to questions from anyone outside the related brokerage about information concerning listings or other contracts, titles, financial documents, closing documents, or other information relating to a transaction;
  • Explain or interpret a Contract of Purchase and Sale or any form of service agreement (e.g., listing contract) with or to anyone outside the related brokerage;
  • Negotiate or agree to any commission, commission split, or referral fee on behalf of a real estate professional;
  • Present or negotiate an offer or any form of service agreement; or
  • Provide any other service for which a licence is required under RESA.

Knowing What Rental Property Management Unlicensed Assistants Employed by a Brokerage Can Do

The following lists do not apply to unlicensed assistants employed directly by real estate professionals and only to unlicensed assistants employed directly to the brokerage.

Other licensing exemptions can be found here.

(a) What Unlicensed Assistants Can Do

Unlicensed assistants can:

  • Show the rental real estate to prospective tenants;
  • Receive rental applications from prospective tenants for presentation to the real estate professional;
  • Inspect a property regularly for signs of a grow-op (as required by many municipalities);
  • Collect money in relation to the rental real estate, including money collected as rent, security deposits or pet damage deposits, provided that, on receipt, the exempt caretaker or manager promptly delivers the money to the brokerage;
  • Perform bookkeeping or office functions, including recording and depositing rents and security deposits;
  • Order items of routine repair;
  • Call tradespersons for repair quotations as directed by the real estate professional;
  • Answer the telephone, take messages and respond, as directed by the real estate professional, to emergencies by calling a restoration company or other tradesperson;
  • Place routine telephone calls with respect to late rental payments;
  • Perform maintenance work and answer questions about such work; and
  • Supervise employees or contractors hired by the brokerage.

(b) What Unlicensed Assistants Cannot Do

Unlicensed assistants cannot:

  • Negotiate or enter into contracts on behalf of the brokerage or the owner of rental real estate;
  • Make payments to third parties;
  • Manage landlord and tenant matters, e.g. sign tenancy agreements, notices of eviction, inspection reports, notices of rent increases, etc.;
  • Supervise employees or contractors hired or engaged by the owner;
  • Make telephone calls, do telemarketing, or perform other activities to solicit business on behalf of the real estate professional; or
  • Provide any other service for which a licence is required under RESA.

(c) Condition Inspection Reports

BCFSA considers a move-in or move-out inspection report, or the Condition Inspection Report as provided by the Office of Housing and Construction Standards, to be a contract between the landlord and tenant. It sets out an agreement between the landlord and tenant as to what repairs must be completed at the start of the tenancy, and what repairs the tenant is responsible for at the end of the tenancy, and the amount of the deduction from the tenant’s security deposit (and pet damage deposit if applicable). In most cases, your written service agreement between the landlord and brokerage authorizes you to enter into contracts on behalf of the landlord, which includes completing and signing condition inspection reports.

Unlicensed assistants cannot perform these tasks because the definition of rental property management includes “negotiating or entering into contracts.” Employees of the brokerage who work under the caretaker exemption in the Real Estate Services Regulation (“Regulation”) are not able to negotiate contracts on behalf of a real estate professional and cannot conduct move-in or move-out inspections.

Strata Property Management and Unlicensed Assistants Employed by a Brokerage

(a) What Unlicensed Assistants Can Do

Unlicensed assistants can:

1. Under the general direction and supervision of the brokerage or a real estate professional engaged by that brokerage:

  • Answer the telephone and take messages;
  • Place advertising;
  • Schedule appointments for a real estate professional (this does not include making telephone calls, telemarketing, or performing other activities to solicit business on behalf of the real estate professional);
  • Maintain strata and brokerage records;
  • Supervise the inspection of strata records;
  • Act as a courier to deliver strata forms and records, pick up keys, and other similar items;
  • Coordinate and distribute keys and other building security devices;
  • Assemble strata notices and agenda packages;
  • Assist a real estate professional at a strata council or general meeting provided that the unlicensed assistant does not advise the strata council or strata corporation;
  • Obtain public information from a courthouse, municipality, regional district, etc.;
  • Perform bookkeeping or office functions, including:
    • Record and deposit trust funds;
    • Record third party charges and payments; and
    • Record charges and payments of strata fees, liens and fines; and
  • Contact tradespersons to assess the need for repairs.

2. As authorized on a case-by-case basis by the brokerage or a real estate professional engaged by that brokerage an unlicensed assistance can:

  • Arrange for approved repairs, services and purchases;
  • Obtain quotes; and
  • Arrange access to common property.

3. For the approval of the brokerage or a real estate professional engaged by that brokerage an unlicensed assistant can:

  • Prepare strata notices and agenda packages;
  • Prepare minutes of annual and special general meetings and strata council meetings;
  • Draft correspondence for signing by a real estate professional;
  • Prepare financial statements and reconciliations;
  • Prepare cheques for signature by a real estate professional or strata council member(s); and
  • Prepare Strata Property Act forms.

(b) What Unlicensed Assistants Cannot Do

Unlicensed assistants cannot:

  • Exercise delegated powers of a strata corporation or strata council, including:
    • Making payments to third parties on behalf of the strata corporation,
    • Negotiating or entering into contracts on behalf of the strata corporation, and
    • Supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the strata corporation
  • Present, negotiate or explain any service agreement;
  • Negotiate or agree to any management fee on behalf of a real estate professional;
  • Making telephone calls, telemarketing, or performing other activities to solicit business on behalf of the real estate professional; or
  • Provide any other service for which a licence is required under RESA.

Understanding the Risks of Hiring an Unlicensed Assistant Who Also Works at Another Brokerage

Can unlicensed assistants be hired to work at multiple brokerages? There are inherent risks in permitting assistants to work at multiple brokerages, could create conflicts of interest that real estate professionals are required to take reasonable steps to avoid and disclose to your clients per the Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”).

Unlicensed assistants are often privy to confidential information about your clients. When assistants work for real estate professionals, you as the employer are obligated to ensure that your staff to not violate the rules concerning confidentiality by sharing information with those who should not have access to it. If your assistant is working at multiple brokerages, they have information about your clients that could be carried over to another brokerage. Similarly, if you are representing a client and your assistant also works with the real estate professional representing the client on the other side of the transaction, you could be creating a conflict of interest. It would be difficult to prove that you were not privy to the confidential information your assistant had.

Click here for further information on confidentiality and duties to clients.

Managing Broker Considerations

As a managing broker, it is your responsibility to know who is providing services on behalf of your brokerage. While assistants are often hired by the real estate professionals licensed to your brokerage, their staff is providing services on the brokerage’s behalf.

Outlining rules in your brokerage policy manual to require real estate professionals to notify you when they hire assistants will help in your duty to supervise and know what is happening at the brokerage. The policy manual should also outline what activities the brokerage permits both licensed and unlicensed assistants to engage in. Your policies should also include a vetting process for assistants including a criminal background check, and a determination of whether the individual has ever been licensed and/or disciplined by BCFSA.

Unlicensed assistants who want to work for multiple real estate professionals at different brokerages, or multiple real estate professionals within your brokerage can cause a potential issue.

When assistants work for multiple brokerages, they are privy to confidential client information from that brokerage. Should the assistant share that information with the other brokerage, or should it appear likely that information was shared, the respective real estate professional and brokerage could be sanctioned for violating their duty of confidentiality.

Should the assistant wish to work with multiple real estate professionals within your brokerage, you must first consider your brokerage model. Under designated agency, the same potential conflicts that could arise when an assistant works at multiple brokerages exists here as well. Confidential information about each designated agents’ clients could be provided to other designated agents (either unintentionally or intentionally). Under brokerage agency, this would not be an issue.

Best practice would be to restrict any assistant from working with any other designated agent or brokerage while employed by one of your real estate professionals.

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

  • Section 30, Real Estate Services Rules, Duties to Clients
  • Section 3, RESA, Requirement for licence to provide real estate services
  • Section 2.14, Real Estate Services Regulation, Exemption for caretakers employed by brokerages
  • Section 2.18, Real Estate Services Regulation, Exemption for strata caretakers employed by strata corporation or brokerage

Definitions

Real estate services: means

  1. rental property management services,
  2. strata management services, or
  3. trading services

Rental property management services: means any of the following services provided to or on behalf of an owner of rental real estate:

  1. trading services in relation to the rental of the real estate;
  2. collecting rents or security deposits for the use of the real estate;
  3. managing the real estate on behalf of the owner by:
    1. making payments to third parties,
    2. negotiating or entering into contracts,
    3. supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the owner, or
    4. managing landlord and tenant matters

but does not include an activity excluded by regulation

Strata management services: means any of the following services provided to or on behalf of a strata corporation:

  1. collecting or holding strata fees, contributions, levies, or other amounts levied by, or due to, the strata corporation under the Strata Property Act;
  2. exercising delegated powers and duties of a strata corporation or strata council, including
  3. making payments to third parties on behalf of the strata corporation,
  4. negotiating or entering into contracts on behalf of the strata corporation,
  5. supervising employees or contractors hired or engaged by the strata corporation, or
  6. enforcing bylaws or rules of the strata corporation,

but does not include an activity excluded by regulation

Trading services: means any of the following services provided to or on behalf of a party to a trade in real estate:

  1. advising on the appropriate price for the real estate;
  2. making representations about the real estate;
  3. finding the real estate for a party to acquire;
  4. finding a party to acquire the real estate;
  5. showing the real estate;
  6. negotiating the price of the real estate or the terms of the trade in real estate;
  7. presenting offers to dispose of or acquire the real estate;
  8. receiving deposit money paid in respect of the real estate

but does not include an activity excluded by regulation

Client: means, in relation to a real estate professional, the principal who has engaged the real estate professional to provide real estate services to or on behalf of the principal