It depends if the information they post on their website is personal information or not. Personal information is defined in the Personal Information Protection Act as information about an identifiable individual. This means that if the information could identify you, it’s personal information, and someone needs your consent to use it.
In real estate, a picture of the exterior of your house, information about its neighbourhood, and even the address are likely not personal information. All of that information is readily available on sites such as Google Maps, but the law is less clear when this information is combined with a statement that the property was just sold, and at a certain price.
Though it has not been tested in court yet, this combination of information could be considered personal information. It’s because of legal grey areas like this that RECA recommends real estate professionals get written consent from buyers of their listings if they want to continue advertising a sold listing after possession takes place. Once possession takes place, the seller is no longer the person who provides that consent; it’s the new owner – the buyer.
If there is any doubt about whether or not there is personal information in an advertisement, real estate professionals should try to get written consent from the property owner before advertising, or don’t include the information in the ad.
If you are concerned that a real estate professional’s website contains your personal information through posting a sold listing, talk to the real estate professional in question. There are strict confidentiality rules for real estate professionals, and privacy legislation may apply too. You can also bring the issue to the real estate agent’s broker.
You may not be able to make a real estate professional take an ad down if it doesn’t contain your personal information, but if you’re still uncomfortable with it because you believe it shares too much about your property, a true professional should be open to hearing your concerns and working with you to address them.
“Ask Charles” is a question and answer column by Charles Stevenson, Director of Professional Standards with the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA), www.reca.ca. RECA is the independent, non-government agency responsible for the regulation of Alberta’s real estate industry. We license, govern, and set the standards of practice for all real estate, mortgage brokerage, and real estate appraisal professionals in Alberta. To submit a question, email firstname.lastname@example.org.