A Toronto realtor showed a home to potential buyers in the city's east end last week, despite tenants self-isolating inside after being exposed to COVID-19.
As reported by Global News, an East York bungalow was listed by Arifur Shohel, a sales representative with HomeLife Miracle Realty Ltd.
The home, located at 100 Amsterdam Avenue, had barely been on the market when as many as 20 potential buyers showed up for a walk-through, likely unaware that three occupants renting the lower floor were in self-isolation because of COVID-19. The listing has since been taken down.
According to Global News, the Govin family, who live across the street from the listed home, were helping the quarantining residents by delivering groceries because, by law, those in isolation aren't supposed to go outside.
Last Thursday, the real estate agent showed the property to "several small groups," with some being in their 70s and 80s.
According to Global News, Rick Govin says he approached the real estate agent in his car and told him he knew residents inside were in isolation.
“He didn’t seem to care,” Govin told Global News, adding he later called the City of Toronto’s 311 number to complain. The Govin's said they were informed by the tenants that they were advised to remain together in a single room when clients were allowed into the home.
"At a time when we’re all meant to be staying home, it’s beyond irresponsible to bring people into a household where there are known positive cases," said Councillor Brad Bradford, Ward 19, Beaches-East York.
"Under the second Provincial Emergency orders, enacted January 14th, open houses are prohibited in Ontario, but property showings can proceed by appointment only," said Bradford, who added that helping people take care of buying and selling property continues to be essential.
However, Bradford says the lack of both sensitivity and common sense in this situation is "unbelievable."
"In an instance like this, unless folks are reporting it, there’s not necessarily a lot enforcement can do. Interestingly for this case, the laws and orders currently in place are gathering specific - there are fines ranging from $750 to $100,000, including up to one year in jail. Even though an open house isn’t a gathering or a breach of the Federal Quarantine Act for travellers, this broker should absolutely be reported to Toronto Real Estate Board and Ontario Realtors Association for professional repercussions."
While open houses are not allowed during the lockdown in Ontario, real estate agents are permitted to show homes by appointment while following strict COVID-19 guidelines.
The Toronto Regional Real Estate Board (TRREB) told Toronto Storeys that showings by appointment are permitted under provincial rules to ensure the real estate market remains functional and that it has sent out numerous advisories outlining property showing protocols for Members during the pandemic.
"We have repeatedly reminded Members that it is not business as usual, the most recent guidance being issued last week. While real estate is deemed an essential service, realtors have an obligation to keep their communities safe during this second wave," said TRREB.
"Most Members have heeded our advisories and are doing their part to be in compliance with public health directives to ensure the safety of their clients and the public. Any realtor breaching these rules should be reported to the Real Estate Council of Ontario and public health authorities to face consequences."
"One thing is certain, if realtors, their clients, or any consumer displays symptoms related to COVID-19, they cannot proceed in a way that may endanger others. They are obligated to refuse showings to clients," said TRREB.
If in-person showings are required, it should be limited to those that are urgent. Members and their brokerages have been advised to adopt the following protocols:
"It comes down to incredible ignorance and insensitivity to the pandemic situation we’re all facing right now, not to mention a huge overstep on the rights and decent treatment of the people living in this home," says Bradford.