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BCFSA’s information is clear, concise, easy-to-read explanations of the requirements for real estate professionals under the Real Estate Services Act (“RESA”), Real Estate Services Regulation (“Regulation”), Real Estate Services Rules (“Rules”), and other applicable legislation.
This information is intended for use by real estate professionals, to support their understanding of the standards they must meet in the delivery of real estate services.
In British Columbia, there are laws that protect aspects of an individual’s privacy and information. It is important for you as a real estate professional to understand how privacy applies to you and your clients.
As a real estate professional, you must ensure that you comply with all of the provisions of Privacy Information Protection Act (“PIPA”) which outline how you are to collect, use, store, disclose and protect personal information. PIPA defines personal information as any information about an identifiable individual, such as:
- Date of birth;
- Physical characteristics; and
- Personal address
but does not include contact information (for business) or work product information.
In most circumstances, you must obtain an individual’s consent to collect and use their personal information. You can only use their personal information for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate. Documentation containing personal information must be destroyed, or anonymized, as soon as the purpose for which the personal information was collected is no longer being served by its retention, and retention is no longer necessary for legal or business purposes.
On or before collecting personal information about an individual, or an organization, you must also disclose to them, verbally, or in writing, the purposes of collecting said information.
RESA, the Rules and other statutory requirements that apply to real estate professionals and brokerages (for record retention) interact with PIPA, in that they create requirements to collect and retain certain brokerage records, which may include personal information.
In certain instances, licensees may be legally required to disclose some of the personal information that they have in their records to BCFSA as per the requirements set out under RESA and the Rules, or as otherwise required by law.
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia’s (“OICP”) website also has information on when and how to destroy personal information you or your brokerage may collect.
Please visit the OIPC website at for more information.
(a) Collection of Personal Information on Tenancy Applications
As a real estate professional acting on behalf of a landlord client, you will often receive tenant applications that contain personal information. It is important to understand what information you are permitted to ask a potential tenant for.
You can ask for and collect the following information:
- Current and past tenancies;
- Publicly available court records and tribunal decisions.
You can also ask for other information from prospective tenants, but you must be careful to ensure that the information you are requesting is for the purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate. For example, if you are renting a house that is next door to an elementary school, you may want to request that the prospective tenant obtain a criminal record check. Other examples of information you may be able to request are:
- Income and employment;
- Credit report;
- Social insurance number;
Banking information is something a landlord will commonly have from a tenant if they are making pre-authorized payments. It is important to note that banking information cannot be requested prior to establishing a tenancy.
(b) Once a Tenancy is Established
Once a tenancy has been established, you can collect further personal information from the tenant if reasonable. Some examples of further personal information would be:
- Licence plate number: The tenant may require parking in the building, and it would be reasonable to collect that information so that you can ensure no unauthorized vehicles are parked in the lot.
- Insurance policy: The landlord may require a copy of the tenant’s insurance policy on the rental property to satisfy requirements with lenders and/or insurance companies.
Once a tenant’s personal information is collected you must ensure that you use that information only for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances and that fulfill the purposes that the landlord discloses to the individual or are otherwise permitted under PIPA. In only limited circumstances can you disclose the personal information of the tenant without their consent. Some of these circumstances include:
- Where it is clearly in the interests of the tenant and consent cannot be obtained in a timely manner;
- When the disclosure is used for the purposes of contacting next of kin or a friend of an injured, ill, or deceased individual;
- Where the disclosure is required or authorized by law;
- For the purposes of an investigation by law enforcement or other federal or provincial agencies.
Privacy laws are complicated and can often be difficult to interpret. If you are unsure of your or your client’s obligations under PIPA, you should ensure that you advise your client to seek legal advice.Office of the Information Privacy Commissioner of British Columbia
(c) Social Media
Material containing personal information that can be viewed on social media is not classified as public, and is still subject to restrictions on collection. Once you view any personal information on social media you are deemed to have collected it. When acting for your landlord client, you are not permitted to collect personal information from social media on prospective tenants unless they provide their consent to do so. You can collect information from publicly available sources, as defined in PIPA such as:
- Business directories;
- Newspapers; and
This does not include social media.
Even if you obtain consent from a prospective tenant to collect personal information from their social media account, it is still problematic as you may collect more information about the prospective tenant than what a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances.Learn more about how to address private and confidential information
(a) Collection of Personal Information
As a real estate professional acting on behalf of a strata corporation, you must be familiar with not only the privacy requirements under PIPA, but also the requirements outlined in SPA. Some of the common types of personal information that a strata corporation manages include:
- Name, address, and phone number;
- Banking or credit card information;
- Emergency contact information;
- Owner/tenant’s insurance details;
- Names of family members living with an owner or occupying the strata lot;
- Debts owed to the strata corporation by an owner;
- Vehicle licence numbers.
SPA does provide authority for a strata corporation to collect personal information without the consent of owners or tenants in order to create the following records:
- Minutes of meetings, SGM and AGM meetings;
- List of council members;
- List of owners with their addresses;
- List of individuals who have file a Form C;
- List of tenant names.
The strata corporation can also collect any other records required by the Strata Property Regulation
SPA also requires that strata corporations collect personal information to include in Form Bs, Certificates of Payment and Certificates of Lien. PIPA does not, however outline what information should or should not be included in strata minutes.
Documentation containing personal information must be destroyed, or anonymized, as soon as the purpose for which the personal information was collected is no longer being served by retention of the personal information, and retention is no longer necessary for legal or business purposes.
(b) Retention of Personal Information
Under PIPA, if a strata corporation collects personal information from a person for the purposes of making decisions that impact that person, such as to impose a fine for breaching a bylaw, the corporation must retain that information for at least one year. All other personal information that has been collected but has fulfilled its purpose must be destroyed or anonymized.
Please read the Confidentiality and Document Retention Guidelines for more information on record retention in other sectors.
(c) Fees That a Strata Corporation May Charge
SPA outlines the fees that can be charged for forms which contain personal information. For other information, such as a strata lot owner’s request for their own information held by the strata corporation, the corporation may charge a minimal fee for providing copies of the records.Learn more about how to address private and confidential information
The personal information that you will obtain as a real estate professional may be subject to confidentiality requirements under RESA and PIPA. For more information on confidentiality, please read the Confidentiality Guideline.Learn more about how to address private and confidential information