CASL for Real Estate

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Canadian real estate agents take note:

On July 1, 2014, Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) went into effect. This legislation establishes compliance requirements for any person or business that sends emails with the primary purpose of engaging consumers in commercial activity.

Communications from real estate agents and brokerages fall under this umbrella. Keep reading to learn more about CASL and to make sure that your marketing is compliant – or else you could face penalties of up to $1 million as an individual and $10 million as a company.

CASL blogWhat is CASL?

CASL is a new anti-spam law that applies to all electronic messages (e.g. emails, texts, instant messaging campaigns) that organizations send in connection with a “commercial activity.” Its key feature requires Canadian and global organizations that send commercial electronic messages (CEMs) within, from or to Canada to receive consent from recipients before sending messages.

What does this mean?

This means that, as of July, any electronic messages (emails) you send to Canadians that encourage “commercial services” – including your services as a real estate professional – need to have what is called express consent before they can be sent.

What is express consent?

Express consent, as opposed to implied consent, means written, oral or digital agreement from the recipient to receive specific types of messages, for example: “Yes, I want to receive monthly newsletters and new listing information.”

Express consent is only valid if ALL of the following information is included with your request for consent:

  • A clear and concise description of your purpose in obtaining consent
  • A description of the types of messages you’ll be sending
  • The requestor’s name and contact information (physical mailing address and telephone number, email address, or website URL)
  • A statement that the recipient may unsubscribe at any time

The requestor can be you or someone for whom you’re asking. If you’re requesting consent on behalf of someone else, that entity’s name and contact information must be included with your express consent request.

After July 1, 2017, you may only send electronic messages to recipients with express consent or whose implied consent is currently valid under CASL – that is, 24 months after a purchase or six months after an inquiry. If you do not comply with this legislation, you may face legal and financial penalties.

How does CASL impact real estate agents?

For agents, what CASL means is that if you have a mailing list of prospects and clients, you need to make sure that you have express consent in order to continue sending them emails. If you don’t have express consent, you need to get it as soon as possible… or you risk a colossal fine.

You need to get express consent from new clients, too, before you can begin communicating electronically with them – this includes sending them listing information.

How do you get express consent?

Ask for it! Send a message to your mailing list asking them to opt in to your emails. If they consent, great. If not, you can no longer contact them via email.

If you are looking to get consent, a good idea is to demonstrate to your contacts the value of your messages. For example: “If you would like to continue to receive up-to-date local real estate information and all the hot new listings that I share with you, please consider opting in to my mailing list.”

Another thing to note is that all electronic messages must now contain the following components:

  • Your name and/or company name
  • Your physical mailing address
  • Your contact information
  • An unsubscribe mechanism (and it must work!)

If you do not get consent from some people on your mailing list,  remember that you can still interact with your connections and even make new ones on social media as long as you act within the bounds of CASL. These social media and digital marketing strategies will start you off on the right foot. Real estate blogging is also not impacted by CASL (but sending emails about new blog posts is).

For more reading about CASL, check out these great articles:

CASL information provided by the Government of Canada
CREA’s guidance on CASL
A look at CASL by REM Online
A common-sense look at CASL with tips for US businesses 

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We sure hope this cleared a few things up! While this information is here to help you get your business in order for CASL, please do not use it as your sole reference guide. For specific legal advice, please get in touch with a lawyer familiar with this law.

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