B.C. superintendent of real estate pushing for discipline hearing

Turf war threatens to render B.C. superintendent powerless over the province's erring agents

B.C. superintendent of real estate pushing for discipline hearing
In a petition filed this week in B.C.’s Supreme Court, Micheal Noseworthy aimed to force the province’s real estate council — which he oversees — to order a discipline hearing for a McBride-based real estate agent.

B.C.’s superintendent took legal action to establish the powers and limits of his office. According to court records, the council has refused to pursue disciplinary action against Rodger Peterson over a complaint that he misled a couple in an aborted purchase of a rural property back in 2013.

The council did not agree to Noseworthy’s subsequent request to reconsider its decision and hold a hearing.

Garry and Wendy Lowe has engaged in courtroom battles for the past four years with the owner of the 36-hectare property they were intending to buy – the property in which Peterson acted as an agent for both the buyers and the seller.

The Lowes claimed Peterson assured them that the purchase will include a 4 to 6-hectare field, along with an old abandoned farmhouse. At the last minute, and after the contract for purchase has already been completed, the Lowes learned from locals that the property did not include the field, the couple claimed, leading to them killing the deal and the owner suing them for breach of contract.

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Provincial Court Judge Michael Gray dismissed the claim against the Lowes in November 2016, stating that Peterson “was careless in not fully discussing the interest of the Lowes in the farming project,” and that “at the very least, he should have insisted on walking the property before any offer was presented.”

Three months later, however, the Real Estate Council of B.C. informed the Lowes they would not be applying any disciplinary action to Peterson, leading to the couple appealing to the superintendent.

“We believe the public interest is not being served by how the real estate council regulates real estate. There [are] a lot of people who don't have our skill or our determination and they just give up,” Garry Lowe said, as quoted by CBC News.

“When the superintendent thing came up a few years ago, this was such a hopeful breath of fresh air for the public’s interest, but the real estate council has just basically told him to go away, because he doesn’t have jurisdiction. Well, if he doesn’t have jurisdiction, then who does?”

After Noseworthy directed the council to hold a disciplinary hearing regarding the claims, the council wrote back saying that “once the council has disposed of a complaint, the jurisdiction of the council is spent in respect of that matter.”

“One of the recommendations ... was that the superintendent be provided with stronger oversight powers over the Real Estate Council in order to ensure that the public had confidence in the enforcement of the [Real Estate] Act’s provisions,” according to the superintendent’s petition to the B.C. Supreme Court. “To permit the Real Estate Council to refuse to comply ... would be to render those amendments meaningless and unenforceable, contrary to legislative intent.”

The council has yet to answer the petition.

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