Professional Conduct Handbook

New real estate sales rules restrict delegation

New Professional Conduct Handbook Rules permit lawyers who offer real property for sale on behalf of clients to employ assistants in relation to the sale, but they may only delegate certain tasks: see Chapter 12, Rules 10 to 12 and Chapter 14, Rule 22.

When carrying out the acquisition or sale of a property for a client, a lawyer must do so in his or her name or that of the law firm and must include the firm’s name in any marketing activity. The new Rules specify that the lawyer who conducts the sale must not delegate the task of showing the property. This includes attending at the property for the purpose of exhibiting it to prospective purchasers; providing information about the property (other than preprinted information prepared or approved by the lawyer); answering questions and making any representations in relation to the property; and conducting an open house.

A real estate marketing assistant may arrange for maintenance and repairs of any property in the lawyer’s care and control; place or remove signs relating to the sale of a property; attend at a property (without showing it) to unlock it and let in prospective purchasers, real estate licensees or other lawyers; and provide prospective purchasers and others with preprinted information about the property prepared or approved by the lawyer.

These rules flow from a common position that the Law Society and the BC Real Estate Association put forward to the provincial government at the time of recent changes to provincial real estate legislation. Both organizations agreed that the exemption for lawyers from the licensing provisions of the real estate legislation should remain, but that the licensing exemption should not extend to a lawyer’s staff.