Update to FINTRAC Regime Materials Now Available

Update to FINTRAC Regime Materials Now Availablecrea

 

The Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) has issued new guidance and policy interpretations REALTORS® must abide by to satisfy compliance with Regime requirements.

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) continues to support REALTORS® by providing tools and resources to assist in complying to Regime obligations.

As a result, CREA has updated its FINTRAC compliance materials to reflect:

•    Scanned or photocopied documentation may now be used as part of the dual process method of identification. Previously, only original documentation could be used. This change makes it easier for REALTORS® to identify their clients remotely. No in-person meetings are required. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a timely modernization reflective of CREA’s lobbying efforts in 2019.

•    FINTRAC’s updated guidance on terrorist property lists.

•    A new deadline for suspicious transactions as a result of a change in the law. The new deadline is “as soon as practicable” after measures have been taken to enable a REALTOR® to establish there are reasonable grounds to suspect the transaction or attempted transaction is related to the commission of a money laundering offence or a terrorist activity financing offence.

•    The addition of a “wire transfer” check box in CREA’s template receipt of funds record.

•    Other minor changes.

FINTRAC has committed to “a reasonable and flexible approach with respect to the implementation of recent regulatory amendments.”

Revised materials, which incorporate the changes, are now available on REALTOR Link®. Revised forms will be posted on CREA WEBForms® starting May 15, 2020.

Further to this, in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FINTRAC announced on April 23, 2020 that REALTORS® are temporarily allowed to verify their clients’ identities using government-issued photo identification over video conferencing technology where the use of the dual process method or credit file methods of identification are not available. Effective immediately, in such circumstances, a REALTOR® can ask their clients to display their driver’s licenses on video using programs such as Zoom or FaceTime, and rely on their judgement to verify the authenticity of the ID being displayed. However, REALTORS® that rely on this method should keep a record of why it was not possible to verify that client’s identity using traditional methods of identification. They should also keep a record of all clients identified using the temporary flexibility in order to re-verify their identity in accordance with the law when the physical distancing measures have been lifted by public health authorities.

As stated earlier, this is a temporary measure. Despite its temporary status, additional flexibility for identifying clients is welcome and provides REALTORS® with more options to safely meet their legal obligations. Given that the use of video conferencing technology for client verification is something CREA has advocated for years, we will continue to press the government and FINTRAC to maintain this position, once the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has subsided.

If you have any questions, please contact support@crea.ca.

Available Courses from our Friends TRREB

Available Courses from our Friends at TRREB:

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*If asking for TRREB MEMBER NUMBER – Your BREB Membership number will be accepted.

TRREB’s Professional Development department hosts complimentary webinars on a variety of technology and compliance topics. Click below to register for the following webinars and download the accompanying learning guides:

 

Call Member Services at 416-443-8148 if you have any questions.

If you’ve never participated in a webinar before, please read this guide.

To suggest a topic for a future webinar, click here.

 

COVID-19 and real estate: frequently asked questions

RECO

RECO has received a wide variety of questions about real estate trading in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Please see below for answers to some of the most common questions from registrants. The latest information from RECO is always available on the COVID-19 Notices page.

 

Challenges in closing trades

Will RECO enable the extension of real estate closing dates, without penalty?

RECO does not have the authority to enable the extension of closing dates.

Altering the closing date of a real estate transaction would require amending the agreement of purchase and sale (APS), which is a binding contract between the buyer and the seller. Any change to the closing date in the APS can only be made by written amendment signed by the parties to the agreement. During this unprecedented situation, we encourage all parties to approach such changes with a desire to be flexible and understanding in changing circumstances.

Some brokerages have taken steps to develop and recommend clauses that facilitate COVID-19 related delays. Consider seeking legal advice before including such a clause.

Will RECO enable consumers who can’t close because of COVID-19 to get their deposits back?

It is outside RECO’s authority to require the return of deposits.

Failed transactions must be resolved through an agreement between the buyer and seller, with support from professionals such as real estate salespeople and lawyers. The distribution of deposits may only occur by agreement between the parties, or by court order.

During this unprecedented situation, we encourage all parties to approach such situations with a desire to be flexible and understanding in changing circumstances. Registrants should continue to support their clients to find effective solutions – something they do well.

For more information, see the Registrar’s Bulletin on failed Agreements of Purchase and Sale.

If the Agreement of Purchase and Sale stipulated that the buyer was entitled to a certain number of pre-closing visits, does the seller have to honour this obligation, in light of the changing circumstances?

During this unprecedented situation, we encourage all parties to approach such situations with a desire to be flexible and understanding in changing circumstances. We encourage registrants to continue to support their clients to find creative and effective solutions.

 

Will land registry offices be available to close transactions?

Land registration services are included on the Government of Ontario’s list of essential workplaces, and these services remain available.

Showings and open houses

The Government of Ontario has prohibited the hosting of in-person open houses during the state of emergency. In addition, RECO strongly recommends that brokers and salespeople follow the direction of health officials by limiting showings to situations where they are absolutely necessary. For more information and answers to common questions, please see RECO’s website.

 

Do I still have to attend in-person showings?

RECO strongly recommends that brokerages and salespeople follow the direction of health authorities by limiting in-person showings to situations where they are absolutely necessary.

If you offer to conduct an in-person showing, take steps to reduce the risk of transmission by following guidelines from health authorities: practice proper handwashing and sanitizing procedures and discourage the buyer from touching any surfaces in the home.

Consider asking the buyer to fill out a questionnaire that asks about travel history, COVID-19 symptoms, whether they have been in self-isolation, and so forth. This information can be shared with the occupants of the property. Some brokerages have created forms for this purpose. Ask your employing brokerage if they have created such a tool. Note that, under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), this information can only be used for the purposes for which it was collected.

You must not allow your client to enter a home unaccompanied by a registrant. Doing so would result in disciplinary action.

If you choose NOT to offer in-person showings, you must explain the circumstances to your clients and explain their alternatives. However, if you cannot make suitable arrangements to meet your client’s needs, you may need to cancel your agreement with them.

The listing agreement with my client stipulates that I will provide an open house. How should I proceed now that they are prohibited?

Although the listing agreement is a binding contract, it is not possible to fulfill the in-person open house provision because it would violate the Government of Ontario’s prohibition on open houses.

Discuss the circumstances and alternatives with your seller. Consider electronic options, and clearly explain the marketing benefits of hosting an open house by using online technologies.

Private showings have not been prohibited, but should only be conducted in situations where they are absolutely necessary.

Properties with tenants

Can showings proceed without the tenant’s consent?

The government has taken steps to modify landlord and tenant rights under these unprecedented times.

These parameters fall under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA), which is enforced by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). It is outside of RECO’s jurisdiction to require a tenant’s consent for showings. However, RECO has recommended that registrants obtain the tenant’s consent.

Registrants must comply with the RTA in all dealings with tenants. Please note that if a landlord is not permitted to do something under the RTA, a registrant cannot do it either. In addition, the landlord’s consent is required for any actions involving tenants.

We encourage all parties to approach such situations with a desire to be flexible and understanding, with full consideration of the risk of transmission associated with in-person showings.

My client is buying a property that is occupied by a tenant. The tenant was issued an eviction notice prior to the Government of Ontario’s temporary ban on evictions. Can the eviction still proceed?

Eviction orders fall under the Residential Tenancies Act, 2006 (RTA), which is enforced by the Landlord and Tenant Board (LTB). It is outside of RECO’s jurisdiction to comment on RTA issues. During this unprecedented situation, we encourage all parties to approach such situations with a desire to be flexible and understanding in changing circumstances. We encourage registrants to continue to support their clients to find creative and effective solutions. Please contact LTB for further guidance.

Proof of identity

What should I do if authorities ask me to prove that I’m registered to trade?

The MyRECO Certificate App allows you to display your RECO registration certificate on your mobile device in real time, providing authorities with proof that you are registered to trade.

If you have a paper certificate, you may also present it to authorities, as an alternative.

Short-term accommodation rentals

Can you clarify the Government of Ontario’s requirement that short-term accommodation rentals can only be provided to individuals who are in need of housing during the emergency period?

In its communications regarding the list of essential workplaces, the Government of Ontario included the following:

 

Short term rentals

(1) Every person who provides short term rentals in rental accommodations shall ensure that any rentals booked after April 4, 2020 are only provided to individuals who are in need of housing during the emergency period.

(2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of hotels, motels and student residences.

When facilitating short-term accommodation rentals, brokers and salespeople should use their best judgment to determine whether the individual is in need of housing during the emergency, or whether they are seeking accommodation for other purposes.

The obligations for registrants who facilitate short-term accommodation rentals continue to apply. For more information, please see the Registrar’s Bulletin on the topic

Financial elements of a trade

Can I use electronic funds transfers in lieu of paper cheques?

Yes. Electronic funds transfers (commonly referred to as EFTs) reduce the need for in-person contact in the course of real estate trades. For more information on meeting compliance requirements when using electronic funds transfers, please see the Registrar’s Bulletin on the topic.

How do I fulfill FINTRAC requirements without checking photo ID in person?

FINTRAC’s hub for real estate compliance contains a page with detailed requirements for confirming a client’s identification without meeting them in person.

Brokerage offices

Are brokerage offices permitted to remain open, with administrative staff working onsite?

The Government of Ontario has included real estate services on its essential workplaces list. As such, brokerage offices may remain open, with staff working onsite. However, brokerages and their employees must follow the health authority guidelines, including physical distancing and regular handwashing.

Reminder: Connect to be Discontinued as of April 30, 2020

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Since July 2009, Connect offered REALTORS® from participating Boards and Associations the ability to search and view active listings and recent sales history of all other participating Boards in their own local MLS® System format.

Throughout the years, many Boards elected to become participants, and Connect was further enhanced to include the Unified Search option, which allowed Members to search for information from all participating Boards and Associations together, using an intuitive map interface.

However, in the beginning of 2018, several participating Boards and Associations made the decision to end their participation in Connect, for various reasons.

When ORTIS recently decided to terminate their participation with Connect, it became clear that there is no longer enough support among the neighbouring Boards to merit the continuation of this once revolutionary and popular interface being utilized to share listing data between the various Boards and Associations.

For this reason, as of 9:00 am, Thursday, April 30, 2020, Connect will be discontinued.

Event Announcement: Top Tech Tools & the 3 Truths of Technology, 28 Apr 2020

With dramatic changes in the industry, combined with a proportionate millennial shift in the marketing place, REALTORS® need to have a proactive strategy to address this evolution by the end of 2020.  It is estimated that within the next 3 to 5 years 50% to 60% of REALTORS will no longer be in the business because of the absence of planning and creating a strategy to address this, data first focused shift in the marketplace. 

Lorne Andrews will help navigate the strategies and resources available to the real estate professional through the Agent Marketing System.  Lorne’ objective is to help real estate professionals leverage the AMS resources to differentiate themselves in the industry and help REALTORS® Transform their Business; Secure their Future, and Create their Freedom.AGM

Important COVID-19 legal update on support services

Covid19_Legal_Update_on_Support_ServicesOREA fought to make sure your services as REALTORS® were deemed essential by the Province. But it’s not business as usual. Real estate was deemed essential so you could continue to serve clients who were closing transactions or who urgently needed to sell or buy property.

On that note, we have received many questions from Members about whether or not the essential business designation extends to include photographers, videographers, stagers, cleaners and home inspectors.

To help guide our Members during this incredibly challenging time, OREA has obtained a legal opinion on whether photographers, videographers, stagers and cleaners (referred to as “Service Providers” in this email) can provide services to REALTORS® given that Ontario has ordered all places of business to close, except those on the ‘Essential Business’ list (referred to as the “Order”).

Home Inspectors have received their own legal opinion and the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors has advised that “OAHI’s corporate counsel has confirmed home inspections are still essential ‘in the context of a real estate transaction process…’” during the State of Emergency.

Their letter can be found here at: https://www2.orea.com/e/294162/sential-service-in-ontario-htm/7sdlvq/703442835?h=Frk-2a2V9h8LNIHKxA2tQ6J0G98slKpZmqyjXgJ3_yg

Here’s what you need to know:
Yes, Service Providers such as photographers, videographers, stagers and cleaners may generally be able to do what they need to do at the Seller’s home in support of a real estate transaction.

Service Providers would fall within the “Essential Business” category of Supply Chain businesses that supply another Essential Business, namely the real estate agent services.  However, at least the following steps are required:

  1. The REALTOR® (and not their client) contracts with and retains the Service Provider’s services;

 

  1. Especially in the case of videographers, cleaners and stagers, the REALTOR® has appropriately contracted with their client to provide the client with those services;

 

  1. Only people absolutely necessary attend; and

 

  1. All other Emergency Orders and laws are followed (e.g. no more than 5 persons on the property etc.) including local public health authority guidelines.

This is based upon Ontario’s Emergency Orders in place April 9, 2020. As the COVID-19 situation is constantly changing, please note that the rules can change at any time.

Most importantly, because the condition and characteristics of the property, the market and the specific contracts a REALTOR® may have with both the Service Provider and their client are unique and the behaviour of both the Service Provider and REALTOR® are also contributing factors, this document can only act as a ‘general guide’. An absolute answer requires consideration of all of these factors on a case-by-case basis.

Finally, the responsibility rests with the Service Providers to comply with any Emergency Orders and the law when providing their services. A REALTOR® should not instruct the Service Provider to do anything a Service Provider does not consider to be legal.

For more information please see a summary of the detailed analysis here and feel free to email info@orea.com with your questions.