When the sellers of a home hire a stager to help market and sell it, who owns the rights to the before and after photographs — the homeowners, the listing agent or the home stager? Can the photos be used without the owners’ permission?

Those were the questions posed to me by my clients when they saw before and after photos of their condominium used without their permission on the website of a popular local magazine.

Last month, their real estate agent hired a professional home stager to help sell their 545-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bathroom condo in midtown Toronto.

In order to plan the staging, preliminary photos were taken showing the typical clutter of a small unit including the baby’s crib, change table, swing, boxes of baby food and diapers, their dog and other items in the unit. The owners fully expected that the pre-staging photos would never see the light of day and would be used only so the stager could plan furniture layouts, artwork and decor.

After the staging, the unit was sold for more than the asking price in just one day.

A few days later, my clients were shocked to see a number of the before and after photos on the magazine’s website, along with the street address of the building.

Almost immediately the article and photos appeared on a number of other websites.

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