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Canadian Realtors violating anti-spam laws face $1 to $10 million penalties- AG Exclusive

Digital marketing rules with heavy penalties

The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) notified their members today that they have been advised that “the government is close to finalizing new rules for marketing by e-mail, text messaging and other forms of electronic communication, which will impact the way REALTORS® communicate with clients.”

The Anti-Spam bill which is in the Canadian government’s final stages of legislation spells out terms in which Realtors can contact or market to potential, current and past clients electronically over email and text and violations by individual Realtors come with a penalty of up to $1 million and for corporations up to $10 million and additionally, consumers will have the right to sue for damages.

Canadian Realtor Andrew McKay said, “there are bigger problems such as agents taking only 3 photos with a cheap phone for listing, blatant lies on the listing, etc. Make the fine 10k or 20k and Realtors will take notice. Make it 1 mil and they will think that’s never going to happen. Teach realtors that spam back fires.”

The new electronic marketing measures

According to CREA’s email, these are the 10 points of the Electronic Marketing legislation that Canadian Realtors must know:

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1) With a few exceptions, REALTORS® will no longer be able to send electronic messages to clients or potential clients without their consent.

2) Consent will be implied for REALTORS® to send electronic messages to a client for two years following a real estate transaction and six months after an inquiry from a potential client.

3) A transitional provision allows REALTORS® to send electronic messages to clients without their consent for three years, provided the relationship existed before the new rules come into force.

4) The onus is on the REALTOR® to prove consent; therefore you must document that consent has been obtained by a recipient.

5) When obtaining consent, REALTORS® must set out the purpose for which the consent is being sought, as well as information identifying them. More details about obtaining consent will be included in the regulations issued for the legislation, which have not been drafted yet.

6) REALTORS® will need to ensure each electronic message contains their contact information, an unsubscribe mechanism, and any other information set out in the forthcoming regulations.

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7) Consent will be implied and REALTORS® will be able to follow up by email with new contacts they meet at networking functions, so long as the electronic message is relevant to the recipient’s business.

8.) Consent will not be implied for REALTORS® to follow up on a referral unless the potential client provides their express consent, or has a personal, family or existing business relationship with the REALTOR®.

9) REALTORS® who fail to comply with these new electronic marketing rules could face administrative monetary penalties of up to $1 million for individuals and $10 million for corporations. In addition, individuals who receive unsolicited electronic marketing materials from a REALTOR® could launch a private right of action and sue for monetary compensation.

10) Telephone marketing continues to be governed by the Do Not Call List rules. In the future, the government may include telephone marketing under the same electronic marketing compliance regime.

Will this trickle to America?

The implications of this legislation are huge and the Canadian government is not joking around. Will this trickle to America? It’s not likely, we barely have enforceable do not call laws on the books (yes, they’re there as are RESPA laws that require lenders to respond in a specific window of time), and the laws do not have penalties quite this steep.

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Canadians and Americans alike should be very careful with how they are marketing in the digital era and the Canadian government is going to make sure that Canadians will. Tell us in comments what you think of this news.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

28 Comments

28 Comments

  1. Benn Rosales

    April 13, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I would not want to be the company or Realtor made an example of, you'd be out of business.

  2. Drew Meyers - Virtual Results

    April 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

    I hate spammers with a passion. They are a waste of life. But even I think these penalties may be too steep.

  3. Marlow Harris

    April 14, 2011 at 12:09 am

    I'm assuming that this applies to anyone in a sales position, not just Realtors. It must be a one-law-fits-all-salesperson law, from siding to new windows to tickets to the Policeman's Ball. I wonder if it applies to non-profits looking for donations? It seems a little excessive. Would an Open House be considered a networking event? If an old client wants you to email their brother about helping them sell their house, would that be spamming? Another reason I'm glad I'm not Canadian, I guess 🙂

  4. Brad | Home Loan Artist

    April 14, 2011 at 1:13 am

    One Million? Why not two? Everyone has a budget to meet…..they need to raise money somehow.

  5. Andrew McKay

    April 14, 2011 at 6:19 am

    I recently heard that something like 90% of complaints against realtors violating the code of ethics etc up here are made by other realtors. I maybe a bit Machiavellian but imagine the damage you could do to a colleague/competitor with these fines. I wonder what the virtual or electronic equivalent of a "honey trap" is.
    On a more serious note there is a huge problem we all face with spam and it reflects badly on our industry but $1 million in a perverse way is not a serious figure. Thats why I mentioned make the fine $20,000 as that hurts and is collectable.
    I use Aweber for my newsletter etc and find the service easy and excellent with consent and unsubscribe options built in.

  6. Jon Angevine - Calgary Real Estate

    April 14, 2011 at 7:58 am

    This has been in the works for some time and has now just come into effect from what I understand. You can check out the actual legislation here -https://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=4901869&file=4

    As with anything those are maximum fines. I doubt that we would see an individual Realtor getting the maximum for the first offence. I wonder what will happen with all the pharmaceutical ads we get as spam. Our national do not call list has not seemed to have much impact on the unsolicited calls either.

  7. Roland Estrada

    April 18, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    The only spam I get is from other Realtors and real estate related services. And it happened by registering my name with NAR, CAR and OCAR. However I've found a possible solution. For the past week or so, I've been using a service from Unsubscribe.com. So far my daily real estate related spam is declining. I was getting 10 to 15 spams per day. Yesterday I got one spam. So far today, I've gotten one. Fingers crossed.

  8. Jon Angevine - Calgary Real Estate

    May 16, 2011 at 9:38 am

    Just an update here in Alberta our Industry Association has published a list of 10 rules REALTORS® need to know regarding this legislation.

    areahub.ca/Home/AREAhub-Monthly/marketing.aspx

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