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

Romain Garcin

14:53 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

As far as I'm aware it's only for water.

Ian Ringrose

14:56 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

The water companies got this, as they are not allowed to cut people off for not paying, they are also not allowed to fit prepayment meters.

A landlord must also tell them the new address of a tenant if asked after the tenant has left – but only if the landlord knows it.

Romain Garcin

15:13 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "10/02/2014 - 14:56":

Ian, do you have a reference for this?
The Flood and Water Management Act only seems to refer to 'occupiers'.

Jeremy Smith

15:19 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

This is something I have found :
I'll just paste a copy, it's easier than chasing a link, IMO :

"The Data Protection Act 1998 will not prevent a landlord from releasing personal information where they have a legal obligation to do so. For example, under the Landlord and Tenant Acts landlords may have to provide an unedited copy of the service charge account to a tenant if he or she asks for it. If so, the landlord will have to comply with the request even if it means revealing information about other tenants.

Can a landlord pass the names of new tenants to the utility companies?

Yes. A landlord has a legitimate interest in making sure that utility charges are directed to those responsible. However, landlords should tell individuals when they first agree to the tenancy that their details will be passed on.

Can landlords see references which were provided to the letting agents?

The agent can pass this information to the landlord, as long as, when the reference is asked for, they make clear to the tenant and the referee that this will happen.

Can landlords put up a list of tenants who are in arrears?

No. Information about an individual’s debts should only be given out in limited circumstances. It is only justifiable to tell tenants if someone has not paid their rent if this has a direct effect on them, for example, if they become legally responsible to help meet any shortfall in shared maintenance charges.

Can landlords disclose details of a tenant who left without paying the rent?

Where a tenant leaves without paying the rent, and without making any arrangement to pay, landlords may provide their details to a tracing agent or debt collection company to help them recover money owed to them. However, it would be good practice to make tenants aware when they sign the tenancy agreement that in such circumstances this will happen. This may also help tenants think twice about not paying rent.

Can a landlord pass forwarding addresses of former tenants to the utility companies?

Yes. Sometimes a landlord will become aware that a tenant has moved leaving behind an unpaid utility bill or an account in credit. In addition a utility provider may need to contact a former tenant regarding continuing social support. In these circumstances landlords can pass a forwarding address (where known) to the utility companies as the Act is not intended to be an obstacle to disclosure in these situations. However, landlords must make tenants aware of these possible disclosures at the start of the tenancy.

When can a landlord give out information?

In general, landlords should make clear to tenants when they sign the tenancy when and how their information will be given out. However, if an emergency repair needs to be carried out, it would not breach the Act to go ahead and provide tenants’ contact details to the repairers. On the other hand, if a domestic contractor is looking for work the tenants should be left to contact the contractor rather than the landlord giving out the tenants’ details without their knowledge or agreement. "

Source:
Information Commissioner's Office:
http://ico.org.uk/for_the_public/topic_specific_guides/housing/landlords

Ian Ringrose

15:24 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Romain " at "10/02/2014 - 15:13":

"Ian, do you have a reference for this? The Flood and Water Management Act only seems to refer to ‘occupiers’."

I may be wrong on this, as I just remember the discussions when it was being consulted on before the law came in. However could ‘occupiers’ be read to include past ‘occupiers’?

Romain Garcin

15:57 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Ian Ringrose" at "10/02/2014 - 15:24":

OK, thanks. I don't know...

Reading the Act, I don't think that the owner has any obligations (under that Act but there may be others) provided he did inform the water companies when the occupier moved in.

Edwin Cowper

21:36 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

I see you quote the effect of the 2010 Act. Can you tell me which section actually provides that? Thanks

Romain Garcin

21:44 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Edwin Cowper" at "10/02/2014 - 21:36":

Yep, it's section 45 (which, to be precise, amends the Water Industry Act 1991): http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2010/29/section/45

45 Water and sewerage charges: non-owner occupiers

(1) After section 144B of the Water Industry Act 1991 (charges: charging by volume) insert—
144C Non-owner occupiers

(1) This section applies to residential premises which are occupied by one or more persons other than the owner (and not by the owner).
(2) The owner must arrange for the undertaker to be given information about the occupiers.
(3) If the owner fails to comply with subsection (2), the occupiers' liability for charges under this Chapter becomes shared jointly and severally with the owner.

Michael Barnes

21:55 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

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

Interesting.

I just did it and it said "register".

We must have differing views on what we are doing.

Jeremy Smith

23:00 PM, 10th February 2014
About 7 years ago

Reply to the comment left by "Michael Barnes " at "10/02/2014 - 21:55":

Also interesting !!

- It said Register to me as well.

I can't see which question Gary would have differed on from us.
They are all pretty unambiguous.

I reckon it's the question that says:
"Do you only process personal data for staff administration, advertising, marketing or public relations, or accounts or records?"

I answered "no" and it told me to register.

then I tried "yes", and it took me to further questions on each individual case of that question:
Only staff administration - "no"
leads to
Advertising, Marketing or Public relations - "yes" ( "no" leads to "have to register" )
leads to
For accounts, Financial records "no"
- if you answer "no" to this quesiton, it wants you to register.

so if you DONT use the information for public relations, accounts or financial records, you must register, it must assume you are doing something else with the data i guess.

It seems a very blunt tool.

I would think with this reasoning, all landlords would need to register.
We keep their data on file, pass it to other organisations, and we could even put it on the 'bad tenants' list I guess !!

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