Data Protection for Landlords and Tenants

by Readers Question

8:48 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Data Protection for Landlords and Tenants

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Data Protection for Landlords and Tenants

How does the Data Protection Act apply when it comes to landlords and tenants details ?

With regard to the utilities, I have always notified the gas, electric and water suppliers and council tax office to advise them I will no longer be responsible and I have new tenants. They have always asked who they are, and I have supplied them with the names of the incoming tenants and the meter readings but was this correct? Are their details not protected under the data protection act and should I have withheld them? The utility companies have usually said they will need them to phone as well anyway. Data Protection for Landlords and Tenants

Conversely, has the tenant not got a responsibility to keep my details confidential, unless I agree otherwise, e.g. not to tell the council my name and address?

This was touched upon in another thread recently and got me thinking!

Where else do my details get given out without my permission ?

This anecdote I found amusing:

Once I had a lady visit a property where my tenant was just about to vacate and rent out, she was trying to get the Electoral Roll forms back and insisted that I tell her who will be living in the property on 15th October. I said I didn’t know. She asked if I would be moving in. I said I doubt it, but I didn’t know because it may be rented out or may not be. She persisted and asked who would be living there. I still told her I didn’t know ( I did have an idea, since we had some applicants who had paid their holding deposit ). She even asked if I could have a “good guess” at who it would be. I suggested to her that she should have a guess herself, her guess could be just as accurate – and she eventually gave up!

If I had known for certain who the incoming tenants were, should I have disclosed their details?

Regards

Jeremy



Comments

Industry Observer

9:15 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Yes no data can be given on any living being without their express consent unless it is covered by a Statutory right granting the enquiree the right to the date e.g. HMRC (obviously) and Police in anticipation of a crime etc.

This is all backed up by comment from The Data Comissioner's Office and the OFT so a clause confirming it is in order for tenant details to be given, usually end of tenancy, to a relevant third party is in order. Relevant would be as above plus utilities.

Barbara Thorning

10:14 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

The Data Protection Act 1998 [DPA] was designed to prevent the mis-use of information, not that you can’t use it at all. There are eight ‘Principles’, as follows:

1. Information must be used fairly and lawfully;
2. Used for limited and specifically stated purposes;
3. Used in a way that is adequate, relevant and not excessive;
4. Accurate;
5. Kept for no longer than is absolutely necessary;
6. Handled according to peoples’ protection rights;
7. Kept safe and secure;
8. Not transferred outside the UK without adequate protection, eg encryption.

Giving information about tenants to the utility companies would fall under Principle 2, ie, used for a specific purpose. It would be an infringement of Principle 3 if you gave additional irrelevant information that was not necessary for the purpose eg a drink problem, height etc.

The person or organisation who has the information is categorised as the Data Controller, for the purpose of their business and is expected to dispose of the data when they no longer need it. It is highly unlikely a tenant would fall into this category or be subject to prosecution. HTH.

Gary Nock

10:57 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Take the Information Comissioners test at http://www.ico.org.uk. I did and it said I didnt need to register. But for £35 I think its best anyway.

Ian Ringrose

11:00 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Most tenants will expect a landlord to give utilities their names when they move in. As I landlord I would expect a tenant to tell a council my name and address if asked – this is not restricted information as it is on the land registry.

In both cases I would not expect date of birth or mothers maiden name to be given out, as these are often considered to be confidential. I would NOT expect the tenant to tell the council I was on holiday for two weeks.

A random person that visits a property that may or may not be working for the electoral roll should not be told anything about anyone else, as there is no reasonable expectation that data would be used in that way. It would be reasonable to inform her that you will write to the council tax department if and when a new tenant moves in, and that she can ask them.

To sum the data protection act up in one line “You must not use someone’s data in a way that is not needed for the reason they provided you with the data.”

(Remember that just because someone has an ID card, it does not mean they are who they say there are, or that they have a right to the information they are asking for. After all, I can buy the machine to create photo ID cards on line and create any ID card I want. )

Jeremy Smith

11:08 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "10/02/2014 - 11:00":

That's a very good point Ian .

If we have control over someone else's data, and sometimes pass it to others who may need it, do we have to be registered as a Data Controller, as Tilly has mentioned?
- If this were the case, most people in britain, and certainly all landlords, would need to be registered for telling someone or other someone elses name and address !!

Mark Alexander

11:13 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Gary Nock" at "10/02/2014 - 10:57":

Hi Gary

That's an incredibly useful link, thank you 🙂

It said that I don't need to register either but that differs to the advice I have been given previously. Nevertheless, I'm with you. For the cost it's better to be safe than sorry 🙂
.

Gary Nock

11:40 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Mark Alexander" at "10/02/2014 - 11:13":

You're welcome Mark. I am told by Mrs N that I do have my uses sometimes

Romain Garcin

11:42 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Note the under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, the property owner must provide the occupiers' details to the water company or be jointly liable for the water bills.

Do provide tenants' details to water companies.

Gary Nock

11:51 AM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain " at "10/02/2014 - 11:42":

And do it by email or letter so you have a record of it .Do not rely on a telephone call. They can always deny receiving it.

Jeremy Smith

14:35 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain " at "10/02/2014 - 11:42":

Well that's very interesting Romain.
Do you think there is a similar Act for Gas and Electric?
If the water company has got this through, you would think other suppliers would do the same.
But perhaps it is because there can be only one water supplier in your area.

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