Privacy and REALTORS®
In the usual course of real estate transactions, REALTORS® may require from buyers and sellers, personal and property information. Some of this information may be considered private. Collecting and sharing this and the real estate transaction information is an essential part of the buying and selling process.
At the same time, few things are more important to individuals than their privacy. REALTORS® recognize the rights of buyers and sellers to protect and control their personal information. REALTORS® are committed to using fair information practices when dealing with your personal information.
The federal government and three provincial governments now have laws in place dealing with how companies can collect and use your personal information. In British Columbia and Alberta, businesses abide by the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) of each province; in Québec, it is the Act Respecting the Protection of Personal Information in the Private Sector.
In all other provinces and territories, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), the federal legislation, applies.
The basic concept of all of these laws is protection of consumer privacy. The laws require that consumers consent to the collection of their personal information, and provide restrictions on how that information may be used, disclosed, and kept. They allow consumers to access any of their own personal information that companies may have collected, and they provide for remedies in the event that the information on file is incomplete or inaccurate.
The CREA Privacy Code is based on the 10 principles of PIPEDA, the privacy legislation. Our Code has been in place since 2001, and is the declaration of organized real estate to the public that we respect the privacy rights of individuals and have adopted policies and procedures to protect those rights.
The Privacy Code of The Canadian Real Estate Association sets out the commitment of REALTORS® make regarding the privacy of your personal information.
- Obtain your consent when we collect, use or disclose your personal information
- Only use the information for the purposes we discussed with you
- Allow you access to your information
- Have privacy policies that are clear and understandable
PRINCIPLE 1 – ACCOUNTABILITY
Members are responsible for the proper management of all personal information under their control, and shall designate one or more persons to be accountable for compliance.
PRINCIPLE 2 – IDENTIFYING THE PURPOSES OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Members shall identify the purposes of collecting information before or at the time the information is collected.
PRINCIPLE 3 – OBTAINING CONSENT
The knowledge and consent of the consumer are required for the collection, use or disclosure of personal information except where inappropriate.
PRINCIPLE 4 – LIMITING COLLECTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Members shall limit the collection of personal information to that which is necessary for the purposes identified.
PRINCIPLE 5 – LIMITING USE, DISCLOSURE AND RETENTION OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Members shall use or disclose personal information only for the reason it was collected, except with the consent of the consumer or as required by law.
PRINCIPLE 6 – ACCURACY OF PERSONAL INFORMATION
Members shall keep personal information as accurate, complete, current and relevant as necessary for its identified purpose.
PRINCIPLE 7 – PROTECTING INFORMATION
Members shall protect personal information with safeguards appropriate to the sensitivity of the information.
PRINCIPLE 8 – OPENNESS CONCERNING POLICIES AND PRACTICES
Members shall make readily available to consumers specific information about their policies and practices relating to the management of personal information.
PRINCIPLE 9 – CONSUMER ACCESS TO PERSONAL INFORMATION
Upon request, members shall inform a consumer of the existence, use and disclosure of his or her personal information and shall give the individual access to that information.
PRINCIPLE 10 – CHALLENGING COMPLIANCE
A consumer shall be able to address a challenge concerning compliance with the above principles to the designated accountable person or persons in the member office.
Frequently Asked Privacy Questions (FAQs)
1. What is personal information?
Personal information is any information about an identifiable individual. This does not include information which is publicly available such as a phone directory listing your name, address and telephone number.
2. How do REALTORS® collect personal information?
Most information will be obtained directly from you, the client. REALTORS® may also collect information from other sources such as credit bureaus and government agencies, as needed. At the time information is collected, you will be told what uses will be made of it, and your consent to that collection and use will be obtained.
3. What do REALTORS® do with my information?
Your information is used to facilitate the real estate transaction. Effectively marketing your house involves advertising the property in any medium, including electronic media (newspapers, real estate publications, Internet web sites) and will also disclosing property information to other salespersons and prospective buyers. If the listing is on MLS®, the property information will be given to the real estate Board or Boards operating the Multiple Listing Service(s)®.
The listing information will be distributed through the MLS® system to any persons authorized to use the service (which may include other REALTORS®, appraisers, government departments and others) and may be marketed by the Board in various media, including the Internet. Property information, including sales data, is kept in the MLS® database following the completion of the transaction and is available to users of the system for comparative market analysis and valuation purposes.
Both current and historical data is essential to the operation of the MLS® system and by placing your listing on the MLS® system, you are agreeing to allow this ongoing use of listing and sales information.
4. How do I find out what personal information a REALTOR® has about me?
You should be able to see your personal information held by a realty firm or real estate Board/Association by calling, writing or visiting the organization in person. There may be specific procedures you have to follow or forms you have to fill out, and the firm or Board/Association has the right to charge a minimal fee for the service.
5. Can I correct my personal information that is wrong?
Yes, you can. Contact the particular firm or Board/Association, explain the correction you are requesting and why. If you can show the information is inaccurate or incomplete, you can request that a document or record with the corrected information be included in the file.
6. Is there a review process?
Yes. If you have any questions or concerns about the way your personal information has been collected, used or disclosed or if access to your personal information has been improperly refused, or if the company has refused to correct erroneous information, try to settle the matter directly with the firm. It has procedures in place to respond to complaints. If you’re not satisfied, you can contact the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 1-800-282-1376.
Privacy information from the Canadian Real Estate Association.