On September 30th the Ontario Superior Court of Justice held that certain information about residential landlords was not their personal information in the circumstances.
The issue arose in an application that challenged a municipal by-law requiring landlords to obtain licenses for residential rental units. The by-law required landlords to submit information in support of a license (including name, telephone number and address information). The by-law also required a copy of an issued license (which included similar information) to be posted. The applicants argued that the by-law conflicted with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
The Court held that MFIPPA’s privacy protection part was not engaged because the information at issue was information that identifies an individual in a business capacity rather than personal information. Justice Leitch explained:
In my view, landlords who lease Rental Units are engaged in business whether or not the landlord is an individual leasing a Rental Unit in his own home or a corporate landlord leasing units in a large apartment building. Both landlords are operating a business. As a result, I am satisfied that the Licensing By-law does not conflict with the provisions of the MFIPPA which protects personal information because the information requested comes within the exclusion set out in s. 2(2.1) of MFIPPA. It is contact information that identifies the individual in a business capacity.
It appears this was the same finding reached by the Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario in a previously decided privacy investigation report that dealt with the by-law. The IPC intervened and argued that the Court should not re-decide the issue or, alternatively, adopt the IPC’s finding. The Court rejected the IPC’s argument because of the IPC’s limited jurisdiction to hear and decide privacy complaints.