Recording Showings – know the law

Smile! You’re on camera. So many of us have cameras installed in our homes, whether it be a doorbell camera or a device in the living room to keep an eye on your favourite pooch while you are at work – technology now allows us to literally keep an eye on everything from anywhere. And if you have your home listed, there are rules to pay attention to keep you on the right side of privacy and even criminal law.

A CREA Café blog I read approached the topic of whether there are any privacy issues with REALTORS®, or their clients, secretly recording potential purchasers during a showing – the rationale being that a recording can help protect the seller’s property.

They took a look from both a legal and philosophical point of view, saying, “yes, secretly recording potential buyers visiting a property without the buyer’s consent constitutes the unauthorized collection of the buyer’s personal information and raises the risk a privacy complaint could be made against the seller and/or the listing agent under the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) or provincial privacy legislation.”

They go on to say that if the recording captures a private communication, like a conversation between a buyer and their agent, it could constitute a criminal offence under section 184 of the Criminal Code(interception of communications).

Now this doesn’t mean you can’t record (audio or video) while you have your home listed for sale, it just means you need to get the buyer’s consent. The post suggested the best way to do this is to get the consent in writing, something like an email acknowledgement.

And as for philosophical approach? The author found it helpful to put themselves in the shoes of the person whose personal information they were collecting. “Would I object if I was recorded without my knowledge? What if my conversation with my spouse or agent was recorded? What if what I say is used against me in my negotiations with the seller?”

What seems perfectly innocent from one perspective – a homeowner trying to take safety precautions in this case – can look suspect from the other side. So, error on the side of caution when it comes to recording your showings and get that permission first. Visit me on Facebook and Google!

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