On August 23rd, 2018 the Supreme Court of Canada announced its refusal to hear an appeal from the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) that would aim to keep the board’s members from publishing home sales data. The dismissal ends a nearly seven-year battle to get the board to open up information. During this time, TREB argued listing data is their copyrighted information. Typically, consumers would have to request such information from a licensed agent.
In 2011, the Competition Bureau, a federal watchdog designed to protect consumers by investigating business policies and mergers, challenged TREB’s policy preventing the publication of such information, saying it impedes competition and innovation.
TREB believes personal financial information of home buyers and sellers must continue to be safely used and disclosed in a manner that respects privacy interests and will be studying the required next steps to ensure such information will be protected in compliance with the Tribunal Order once that comes into effect.
The appeal only had an outside chance, since the Supreme Courts receive over 600 appeals per year, but only about 80 are heard. TREB is now required to remove restrictions on its member’s access and use of real estate data in 60 days; however, there are many ambiguities and uncertainties for which TREB is currently seeking further clarification.
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