For the past 8 years, I have lobbied the Real Estate Associations that I have been involved with to seek amendments to the Ontario Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 and update it so that Agreements of Purchase and Sale could be included. For years Realtors and their clients have been faxing documents between parties which become unreadable and could be touched by many hands before coming to an agreement. Technology has brought forth some great Document management tools that other parts of Canada and the whole of the United States has been able to use because their Electronic Commerce Act have included the transfer of property. As a matter of interest, for years lawyers in Ontario have transferred the deeds on closing electronically through the Ontario Land Registry system, Teranet.
Here is a copy of a Notice to members of the Ontario Real Estate Association:
Last week, the Government of Ontario passed the 2013 Ontario Budget. Thanks to the lobbying of Ontario REALTORS®, the Budget bill included an amendment to the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000 (the “ECA”), which extended the ECA to include electronic real estate agreements of purchase and sale. The purpose of this update is to outline what this important development means for OREA members.
OREA’s Efforts to Amend the Electronic Commerce Act, 2000. Since 2011, OREA has lobbied the Ontario government to repeal the existing exception of real property agreements of purchase and sale from the application of the ECA. OREA believes that the removal of the exemption will allow Ontario REALTORS® to benefit from the use of technology that facilitates the use of electronic agreements of purchase and sale.
OREA’s efforts resulted in the inclusion of the amendment to the ECA in the 2013 Ontario Budget. The government has included a section along with OREA’s proposed amendment to the effect that the amendment to the ECA will come into force upon proclamation. In other words, the amendment does not have the full force of the law until the government announces it does.
This proclamation section is meant to allow the government time to consult various stakeholders, including OREA, about certain matters, such as security measures, in anticipation of the amendment being proclaimed.
So, for the time being, electronic agreements of purchase and sale for land, despite the passage of the provincial Budget, continue to be exempt from the application of the ECA.
I’m a REALTOR®. What does this mean for me?
With the passage of the Budget, some OREA members have asked whether they can use electronic agreements of purchase and sale.
Given that the amendment has not yet been proclaimed, it would be most prudent for REALTORS® to continue to have all agreements that convey an interest in land completed in writing – not by way of electronic means.
While there is no specific timeline, OREA is working with the government to achieve proclamation as soon as possible, so that Ontario REALTORS® can benefit from the use of electronic agreements of purchase and sale.
Great news for us and I have been able to view the environments that are used for the Electronic Signatures and they are very secure and allow readable and proper access for all parties that are involved in the transaction. Woo Hoo! Almost there!!!