Protection of Client Information

Purpose:  This bulletin explains the obligations of industry professionals to protect their client’s information.

This bulletin applies to all industry professionals.

Confidentiality
One of the obligations of an industry professional is maintaining confidentiality of their client’s information. Privacy legislation requires you to
protect a client’s personal information. You must not disclose information regarding a client, property or transaction to another person unless you have permission from your client or the law requires disclosure. 

Client information belongs to the brokerage.

Personal information
Personal information is a broad concept. It means any information about an identifiable person. It includes addresses, phone numbers, e-mail, employers, age, physical traits, ID numbers, finances, marital status, health, family, ethnic origin, religion, sexual preferences, memberships, education, history and occupation.

Property information
Property information is a broad concept.  It means any information about a specific property. It includes legal description, zoning designation, square footage, taxes, age, building condition, pictures or video of the property, sale price, past history, structural, heating, plumbing, electrical and mechanical. 

Financial information
Examples of financial information include:

Transaction information
Transaction information includes information you receive when you give services to a client.  It includes all service agreements and communications between the industry professional and client (e.g. verbal, written, fax, email, and text message). 

Real estate brokerage examples

Mortgage brokerage examples

Real estate appraisal examples

Property management examples

Exceptions to confidentiality
Material latent defects
A property owner must disclose material latent defects. When an industry professional is aware of a material latent defect, they must disclose this information to a potential buyer or the buyer’s representative. This disclosure does not require the consent of the seller.

If it is not clear if the defect is material or latent, you should discuss this with your client. You should advise your client to seek expert advice before making any disclosure to third parties.

Ability to purchase or lease a property
When the brokerage is in a transaction brokerage, the brokerage must disclosure any known material facts relevant to the buyer’s ability to purchase, or the tenant’s ability to lease, the property.

Tenant rights and privacy
In the sale, lease or appraisal of a tenant occupied property, you must have the tenant’s permission to take pictures or video of their belongings and to disclose these to third parties.

Confidentiality obligation is ongoing
The requirement to keep a client’s information confidential is ongoing. When a service agreement ends, you must still protect and keep your former client’s information confidential.

Examples

Practice tips
A brokerage or real estate appraisal company should have policies, procedures and enforcement mechanisms to protect current and former clients’ confidential information. This will ensure the brokerage or real estate appraisal company does not share the information with individuals who should not have access to that information.

Issues to consider for effective client confidentiality policies and procedures:

Practical considerations include:

Related information

Legislation

 

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