The Competition Bureau of Canada is investigating the Quebec Professional Association for Real Estate Brokers (QPAREB) and its subsidiary, Societe Centris, for potentially implementing data-sharing restrictions that may be impeding competition in the province’s real estate market.
On Monday, the watchdog confirmed it had obtained a court order to investigate whether the association has engaged in practices that harm competition or prevent the development of innovative online brokerage services.
The Federal Court of Canada granted the order on February 15, 2023, requiring QPAREB to produce records and written information relevant to the investigation.
The investigation is centred around whether the association has engaged in conduct contrary to the abuse of dominance restrictive trade practices provisions of the Competition Act.
TRREB’s legal battle with the Competition Bureau
This is not the first time the Competition Bureau has investigated data-sharing practices in the Canadian real estate industry.
In 2016, the Competition Tribunal ruled in favour of the bureau in its case against the Toronto Real Estate Board relating to anti-competitive conduct that restricted real estate brokers’ and consumers’ access to historical home sales data and novel real estate services.
The bureau says its investigation into QPAREB and Societe Centris reflects the competition watchdog’s continued efforts to promote competition in the Canadian real estate industry.
In response to the investigation, QPAREB issued a statement indicating that it is cooperating fully with the Competition Bureau in answering its questions.
QPAREB President Marc Lacasse affirmed, “Respect for the rule of law is paramount, and we believe that our practices comply with applicable regulations.”