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B.C. property manager suspended 1 year, fined $30K for misconduct

Surrey is seen in this file image. (Murray Titus / CTV Vancouver) Surrey is seen in this file image. (Murray Titus / CTV Vancouver)
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A B.C. property manager who failed to collect a tenant's security deposit, wrote the wrong address on a tenancy agreement and failed to adequately enforce the property owners' desire to prohibit pets and smoking has been disciplined by the provincial real estate regulator.

The BC Financial Services Authority published its consent order with Donald Paul Nichol – which was proposed and accepted last month – on its website this week. 

In the document, Nichol admits to several instances of misconduct regarding a property he managed for his employer Pacific Quorum Properties Inc. in Surrey, B.C. He also agrees to a one-year suspension of his licence, a $30,000 discipline penalty and $2,000 in enforcement expenses.

The penalties stem from Nichol's tenure managing the Surrey rental property in 2016 and 2017, a period that saw two separate tenancy agreements for the home.

When they hired Pacific Quorum to manage the rental, the property owners advised that they wanted to include no-smoking and no-pet policies in any rental agreements that were signed.

Nichol did not include such clauses in the first tenancy agreement, and an addendum adding the no-pet policy was never signed by the tenant, according to the consent order. The addendum did not include a no-smoking clause.

When the first tenant gave notice that she would be breaking her fixed-term lease early, Nichol failed to make efforts to contact the tenant to secure the $2,000 contracted penalty for early termination. The tenant forfeited her $1,000 security deposit, but the landlords were left short $1,000, according to the consent order.

The second tenancy came with more issues. The order indicates Nichol did not include a no-pet policy in an addendum to the tenancy agreement. He also failed to collect the tenants' security deposit or conduct a move-in inspection before the tenants began living in the home.

The tenancy agreement also listed the wrong address for the property, a mistake that the Residential Tenancy Branch noted when the property owners asked Nichol to evict the second tenants.

Misconduct findings

In the consent order, Nichol admitted to several instances of misconduct related to the property, but all of them fell into one or more of three categories under the Real Estate Services Act.

He failed to act in the best interests of his clients by failing to collect the security deposit from the second tenants, failing to conduct a move-in inspection and failing to do a credit check on them as the property owners had instructed.

He failed to act in accordance with lawful instructions when he failed to include the clients' requested no-pets and no-smoking clauses in the tenancy agreements, and when he failed to perform the credit check.

And he failed to act with reasonable care and skill regarding all of the previously mentioned misconduct, plus two other instances: Failing to enter the correct address of the property on the agreement and failing to make reasonable efforts to collect the monetary penalty from the first tenant.

Pacific Quorum told the BCFSA that Nichol "has a large portfolio of property management clients" and the company would need time "to make adequate arrangements for file transition."

In light of this, the regulator ordered Nichol's suspension to begin on June 21, roughly a month after it accepted his consent order proposal. 

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