Competition Bureau Appealing Ruling in TREB Case

Just when you thought it was over, the war between the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) and the Competition Bureau rages on.

The Competition Bureau recently took TREB to court, accusing them of anti-competitive practices as they wouldn’t release certain information regarding properties that were listed on MLS, such as their prior sale history. This, said the Bureau, gave TREB an unfair advantage over independent real estate agencies and other private firms that don’t have access to that information so they can pass it onto their clients, the potential buyers.

TREB countered that they couldn’t disclose all information as it would infringe on the privacy rights of the sellers of those properties.

In a final ruling, it was decided that while neither side was really wrong, they weren’t really right either. In the end TREB was awarded the case and charges were dropped due to the fact that the case had been filed under the wrong part of the Competition Act.

Now, the Competition Bureau is going to make that right, and is appealing the case.

The Bureau stated that they originally lost the case “based on an overly narrow interpretation” of the Competition Act.

“Allowing the Tribunal’s finding to stand could leave a significant loophole in the application of the Competition Act,” stated interim commissioner of competition, John Pecman, in a statement.

“We are concerned that if the Tribunal’s decision is left to stand, trade associations may be tempted to develop rules aimed at preventing or eliminating potential new forms of competition. It is our view that TREB’s anti-competitive behaviour continues to restrict potential home buyers and sellers from taking advantage of a greater range of service and pricing options when making one of the most significant financial transactions of their lives.”

TREB didn’t respond to requests for comments on the appeal directly, but they do seem to be sticking with the story that they’re simply trying to protect the privacy of sellers that list with them, and through the MLS system.

In a statement the real estate board said that they “will continue to work to protect the personal information entrusted to it and its members by the general public, while it strives always to do what it can to ensure a highly competitive environment for real estate professionals.”

What do you think? Is TREB dealing in unfair anti-competitive practices? Or is it a necessary evil in order to protect those that are selling their home?