A recent decision of a discipline panel of the Real Estate Council of Ontario (RECO) could spell the end of the Seller Property Information Statement in Ontario.
The SPIS is a disclosure form published by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA). Some real estate agents swear by the form, while others are strongly opposed to it.
I have been very critical of the SPIS because, in my opinion, the questions are ambiguous, technical or complicated, and they require expertise in property law, building code, accounting, zoning and other issues — which most homeowners do not have.
Some agents feel the form exists to protect them from allegations of failure to disclose property defects. But it now seems that the form will only create problems for agents who fail to verify its contents.
Across Canada, the SPIS and similar forms have resulted in about 200 reported court cases since 1997.
A disclaimer on the forms attempts to shield real estate agents from responsibility for the accuracy of the seller’s answers. But that disclaimer may not be effective in light of RECO’s recent discipline decision.