Data protection law and request from Council

by Readers Question

10:16 AM, 23rd August 2017
About A year ago

Data protection law and request from Council

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Data protection law and request from Council

Should I be concerned about giving out names of Tenants?

I have an HMO and the local council has asked for the names of my tenants for non single band council tax.

As the Landlord am I at liberty to give out my tenants’ names without breaking the data protection act?

Many thanks

Peter

Editors Notes

Please see Information Commissioners Office guidance on Data Protection for Landlords below:

https://ico.org.uk/for-the-public/housing/landlords

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.

Can a landlord use CCTV in communal areas?

Yes, usually they will need to make you aware of this and explain why they have installed the cameras.

 



Comments

Neil Patterson

10:21 AM, 23rd August 2017
About A year ago

Hi Peter,
The RLA guidance says
>> https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/data-protection-legislation-for-landlords.shtml

"The best way of ensuring that you comply with your obligations where you pass data onto a third party regarding a tenant (or any resident in the property) is to obtain their written consent. Consent must be freely given and needs to be fully informed. This is why it is also important to provide a privacy notice because it explains what you do with the data which you collect. For example, if you share data with others such as local authority and utility companies you should get your tenant’s consent to do so.

Likewise, if you need to obtain information about your tenants/residents from others, then you can ask tenants/residents to give their consent to this being done.

When you obtain the consent you should obtain a separate signature or other confirmation (such as a tick box). You must not rely simply on including a clause in your tenancy agreement. Data protection consents need to be signed for separately."

Gary Dully

10:40 AM, 23rd August 2017
About A year ago

There are letting agents signs on property walls in a few streets in Liverpool saying that a "Rent Dodger" lives inside.

I think the tenants view it as a badge of honour.

Those landlords must have cast iron dingle berries.

Does that breach data protection? (Not the dingle berries bit)

David Rose

16:35 PM, 23rd August 2017
About A year ago

I think that's fine as it doesn't identify an individual. If it said "John Smith, Rent Dodger, lives here" then that wouldn't be OK.

Rob Crawford

11:00 AM, 24th August 2017
About A year ago

I would suggest a "Rent Roger" sign could be viewed by a tenant or a judge as harassment. Even if there is no name it is obvious as to where it is directed. Not a good idea in my book.

Romain Garcin

10:00 AM, 25th August 2017
About A year ago

Hi Peter,

If they have sent you a formal notice under the council tax regulations then you are safe to provide the information.

In fact, you are obligated to provide the information or you will face a penalty that starts at £70.


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