realtor with clients

Information for Real Estate Agents (brokers and sales persons)


As a real estate agent, it’s your job to protect your clients’ best interests.  Your interaction with buyers and sellers is governed by Ontario’s Trust in Real Estate Services Act, 2002 (TRESA), the consumer protection legislation governing the conduct of real estate agents and brokerages trading in real estate in Ontario. And one very important way you can protect your clients is to help ensure that their new home’s electrical work is safe and legal. After all, poorly done, illegal, and unpermitted electrical work can cause electrical shocks, a house fire, even death.

If your client plans to do a renovation, or if the home recently underwent renovations (even something as “minor" as new pot lights), there are two ways you can help protect them — and thereby protect your own professional reputation as well.

First, if your client plans to hire someone to do new electrical work, make sure it’s a Licensed Electrical Contractor and insist that they get an Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) electrical permit for the work.

Second, do some homework on behalf of your client to ensure that the home’s current electrical system is safe, and that recent work was reviewed by ESA.

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Hire only Licensed Electrical Contractors and get an ESA notification of work.

According to law in Ontario, if you hire a company or person to do electrical work in your home, they must be a Licensed Electrical Contractor (LEC) and they must file a notification of work with ESA. Once filed with ESA, a notification creates a permanent record of the electrical work that has been done and ensures the work has been performed to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code. An ESA notification is different than a building permit, as a building permit does not cover electrical work.

Hiring an LEC and filing for an ESA notification of work, is critically important because:

  • LECs are licensed and qualified to perform the type of electrical work needed by your client.
  • LECs are insured and registered with the WSIB, protecting your client if there’s an accident on the job.
  • LECs are required to file a notification with ESA, triggering a review process that may include an inspection; this is an added safeguard for both you and your clients.
  • When the review is complete, ESA issues a Certificate of Acceptance—a document that might be requested by your client’s insurance company and could be necessary for home resale as buyers may request it. Insurers may deny claims tied to unlicensed electrical work.

Find an LEC using ESA’s Contractor look-up tool.

Do your homework to protect your client.

Here are some other ways you can help protect your client by making sure that the electrical work in the home they’re planning to buy or sell is safe.

  1. Cross-reference recent renovations to electrical work. Before a real estate transaction is final, suggest that your clients request a Search of Records from ESA. This will show if there are any open notifications on the property since 2000. An open notification automatically transfers responsibility to the new homeowner to remedy any electrical defects that may exist. You don’t want your client bearing that risk! Consider preparing real estate transaction closing documentation with a clause stipulating that the sale goes through pending verification from ESA that electrical notifications were taken and closed as part of any recent renovations. 
  2. Hire the right professionals: In Ontario, only LECs can legally be hired to do electrical work in a home. They are the only electrical service providers with an ECRA/ESA licence number. This licence number is proof that they have the expertise and equipment to do the job safely. General contractors and handypersons are NOT qualified or permitted by law to be hired to do electrical. “Master Electricians” and “Certified Electricians” may work for a Licensed Electrical Contracting business, but they can't be hired directly to do electrical work unless they are registered as an LEC themselves. Find an LEC using ESA’s Contractor look-up tool.
  3. Ensure an ESA notification of work is filed. Before an LEC begins any work, verify the ESA notification of work is included in their estimate of scope of work and cost to avoid any unpleasant surprises. Filing a notification of work with ESA is the only way to ensure the electrical work has been reviewed and safe.
  4. Know your DIY obligations. Most electrical work done by homeowners themselves requires an ESA notification of work to be filed before the work starts. The work needs to be reviewed by ESA as soon as it is complete. Learn more about DIY Electrical Work.

A new home is one of the most important—and largest—investments in your clients’ lives. So, do your due diligence for them: ensure the safety of their home’s electrical system. Hire only Licensed Electrical Contractors and file for an ESA notification of work for any new work being completed.