Land agent standards of conduct

Land agents play a vital role in the negotiations of surface rights for industrial activities that in the absence of an agreement could be taken by right of entry or expropriation. Fulfillment of this role requires an understanding and appreciation by land agents of their relationship to industry, owners and the legal system.

Section 10 of the Land Agents Licensing Regulation sets out:

“When negotiating for or acquiring an interest in land, land agents must conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, and in accordance with any standards of conduct established by the Registrar”.

A land agent must:

  1. uphold the standards and reputation of the profession
  2. be professional and courteous at all times and treat all parties with dignity and respect
  3. undertake only work that that person is competent to perform by virtue of their training and experience as a land agent
  4. carry out all duties with honesty and integrity
  5. act in good faith
  6. act in the client’s best interests, subject to any limitations imposed by law or professional ethics
  7. follow all applicable Statutes and Regulations
  8. not enter into a situation where a conflict of interest may exist or arise
  9. keep confidential all information acquired in the course of the professional relationship, unless required by law or authorized by the client

Negotiations

The Land Agents Licensing Act provides for certain controls on the negotiation process to ensure that:

  • the owner has adequate time to review proposals and is treated fairly
  • land agents operate consistently and professionally

A land agent who enters into negotiations to acquire an interest in land must advise the owner (or their representative) that they are licensed and produce their licence for inspection at the first opportunity after negotiations have commenced or upon request.

Schedule 4 (section 6.1) of the Land Agents Licensing Regulation sets out that the land agent’s licence must include: land agent’s signature, full name, class of licence held, licence number, expiry date of licence, and signature of the Registrar of Land Agents.

The land agent must provide the owner (or their representative) with a completed copy of the proposed agreement (offer), along with the land agent’s name and business address endorsed on it or attached to it, and explain the provisions of section 17 of the Land Agents Licensing Act and offer to explain the proposed terms of the agreement, including:

  • an offer of compensation
  • the name and business address of each of the parties to the agreement
  • the nature of the interest proposed to be acquired
  • the legal description of the property affected
  • a plan of survey or sketch showing location, dimensions and area in hectares

Sections 17(1) and 17(2) of the Land Agents Licensing Act gives the owner (or their representative) 48 hours (excluding statutory holidays) to review a completed copy of the proposed agreement without pressure from the land agent.

If an owner (or their representative) decides to waive the right to the 48 hour review period, the land agent must have the owner (or their representative) complete the Schedule 2 – Waiver of Application of Section 17(2) of the Act (PDF, 995 KB) form.

This waiver must be sworn or affirmed before a commissioner for oaths. If the land agent acts as the commissioner for oaths, the land agent must complete the Schedule 3 – Statement of Land Agent Acting as Commissioner for Oaths (PDF, 1.5 MB) form and have it commissioned by another commissioner for oaths.

A land agent may also choose to complete the Receipt of Proposed Agreement (PDF, 1.7 MB) form and have the owner (or their representative) sign the form when the proposal is given for review.

Section 9 of the Land Agents Licensing Regulation ensures that negotiations with a owner (or their representative) are resumed or attempts are made to resume before further steps to acquire the surface rights are taken.

Complaints

The Registrar of Land Agents administers and enforces the provisions of the Land Agents Licensing Act, and can investigate complaints concerning matters that pertain to the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation, including the standards of conduct.

Section 10 of the Land Agents Licensing Regulation sets out:

“When negotiating for or acquiring an interest in land, land agents must conduct themselves in a professional and ethical manner, and in accordance with any standards of conduct established by the Registrar"

Typically, the following activities do not require a licensed land agent as long as there is no negotiation for or acquisition of an interest in land. However, a licensed land agent may conduct these activities as part of their employment.

  • Acquiring mineral (subsurface) interests.
  • Surface agreement compensation reviews (rental reviews).
  • Settling damage claims or reclamation disputes.
  • Obtaining access for survey or seismic work only.
  • Charging a fee for giving or offering advice to a owner regarding a negotiation for an interest in land.
  • Notifications about energy development or activities occurring on energy development

A complaint must be made in writing to the Registrar of Land Agents. A complaint form is available upon request by contacting Land Agents Licensing.

If the complaint involves more than one person a separate complaint form needs to be submitted for each person. Notification will be sent when the complaint is received and status updates will be provided.

Once a complaint is received the Registrar of Land Agents will determine if the complaint is about matters that pertain to the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation and if it will proceed to investigation.

The Registrar will either:

Provide periodic updates if an investigation into the complaint is commenced. More information and/or clarification may be requested from you before contacting the land agent and/or individual and any witnesses you have identified, or,

Provide notification to the complainant if it is determined that the complaint does not pertain to the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation.

To submit a complaint, email land.agents@gov.ab.ca

Registrar of Land Agents and staff

The Registrar of Land Agents and staff necessary for the administration of the Land Agents Licensing Act and Land Agents Licensing Regulation have been appointed under the Public Service Act.

For the purposes of conducting an investigation, under the Land Agents Licensing Act, the Registrar of Land Agents has the powers, privileges and immunities of a commissioner under the Public Inquiries Act. This means the Registrar of Land Agents has the power to:

  • summon any persons as witnesses
  • require witnesses to give evidence on oath
  • require witnesses to produce any documents or papers considered to be required for full investigation of the matter at hand
  • enforce the attendance of persons to give evidence or produce documents

The Land Agents Licensing Act specifies that: Any person that hinders, obstructs, molests or interferes with the Registrar of Land Agents, or a person acting on the person’s behalf is guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of up to $5000.

Investigations

If the Registrar of Land Agents receives a complaint about a contravention of the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation or has reason to believe that a contravention of the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation has taken place, the Registrar of Land Agents may initiate an investigation.

For the purpose of the investigation section 13 and 14 of the Land Agents Licensing Act allows for the Registrar of Land Agents to inquire into and examine the business affairs, books, papers, documents, correspondence, communications, negotiations, transactions and investigations by, on behalf of, in relation to or connected with the person in respect of whom the investigation is being made, as they relate to the complaint or alleged contravention. A person in respect of whom an investigation is made shall make prompt and explicit answers to inquiries made.

Copies of any documents required in an investigation may be demanded and any person who has the custody, possession or control of any of these documents must produce them and permit the inspection of them. If a person does not provide the documents requested, a court order may be issued.

A report outlining the findings is submitted to the Registrar of Land Agents, who reviews the complaint or contravention and the evidence gathered in the course of the investigation.

Hearings

A hearing may be held by the Registrar of Land Agents before a decision is made regarding a suspension or cancellation of a licence.

  • The Registrar of Land Agents reviews the complaint or contravention and the evidence gathered in the course of the investigation by the investigator. This may include calling upon the complainant to give testimony.
  • The land agent is then given an opportunity to make statements and provide evidence relevant to the allegations or facts in the complaint or testimony.
  • Each party is given a fair opportunity to rebut opposing statements or evidence through cross examination of other parties and witnesses.
  • Each party may make a closing statement including representations by way of argument.
  • The Registrar of Land Agents may accept written representations or submissions relevant to the matter.
  • The Registrar of Land Agents will advise when a decision will be rendered and closes the hearing.

A land agent may be represented in a hearing by legal counsel. However, section 13 and 14 of the Land Agents Licensing Act requires a land agent to respond to questions or requests for documents relating to a complaint or suspected contravention.

Penalties

If a person acts as a land agent without a licence, they can be fined $5,000 or face up to 6 months in prison. If they are convicted a second time, they can face up to 12 months in prison.

A person who contravenes a provision of the Land Agents Licensing Act for the Land Agents Licensing Regulation for which a penalty is not otherwise provided is also guilty of an offence and is liable to a fine of up to $5000.

The Registrar of Land Agents may also cancel or suspend a licence if the licenced person contravenes the Land Agents Licensing Act or the Land Agents Licensing Regulation, or if it is in the public interest to do so.

A prosecution may proceed whether or not the Registrar of Land Agents is or has taken other steps under the Act or Regulations.

A prosecution under the Land Agents Licensing Act must be commenced within 2 years from the date on which the offence is alleged to have been committed.

Appeals

You can file an appeal if:

  • you have been refused a licence
  • your licence has been suspended
  • your licence has been cancelled

To file an appeal, a written notice of appeal must be served with the Minister of Labour within 30 days after being notified of the refusal, cancellation or suspension.

Within 30 days of being served the notice of appeal, the Minister will appoint an appeal board to hear the appeal. The board is made up of 2 to 4 persons who are licenced under the Land Agents Licensing Act and a chair designated by the Minister.

The appeal board may, by order:

  • confirm the refusal, cancellation or suspension
  • direct that a licence be issued
  • reinstate a cancelled licence, or
  • remove or vary a suspension

Once the appeal board has rendered its decision, either the Registrar of Land Agents or the person who initiated the appeal may appeal the decision by filing an Originating Notice (PDF, 99 KB) with the Court of Queens Bench within 30 days of being notified of the decision. The Court may make any order that the appeal board has the power to make.

Publications

Land Agents Licensing publications

Alberta Agriculture and Forestry publications

Other land agent forms

Contact

To connect with Land Agents Licensing:

Hours: 8:15 am to noon and 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 780-415-4600
Toll free: 310-0000 before the phone number (in Alberta)
Fax: 780-422-7173
Email: land.agents@gov.ab.ca

Address:
3rd Floor, Labour Building
10808 99 Avenue
Edmonton, Alberta  T5K 0G5