Landlords and agents warned over data protection risks

Landlords and agents warned over data protection risks

0:03 AM, 5th January 2024, About 5 months ago

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Landlords and agents, along with housing associations, have been warned by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about their ignorance of data protection laws.

It says that non-compliance by landlords could potentially lead to severe repercussions.

Helen Raftery, the ICO’s head of data protection complaints, said: “Housing organisations necessitate access to personal data, ranging from contact information to sensitive medical records, to deliver essential services and support.

“It is incumbent upon these entities to ensure the security of such data, as mandated by law.”

Increase in tenant complaints

The ICO is reporting that there has been an increase in tenant complaints who have suffered due to inadequate data protection measures being implemented by their housing providers.

Issues cited include erroneous record-keeping and refusal of necessary maintenance, often stemming from misinterpretations related to data sharing protocols.

Ms Raftery said: “Such lapses in data protection are particularly detrimental to tenants requiring additional assistance, whether due to language obstacles, health conditions, or past experiences of domestic violence.”

Misunderstanding of data protection legislation

She says that investigations reveal widespread misunderstanding of data protection legislation among some housing sector organisations.

This concern was echoed in a report by the Housing Ombudsman over Rochdale Boroughwide Housing which highlighted the need for enhanced record-keeping and data accuracy.

The ICO aims to dispel misconceptions about data sharing that may inadvertently hinder the protection of tenants by using case studies.

This will, it says, highlight common pitfalls as it seeks to guide housing organisations toward improving their data protection practices.

GDPR classes to help agents

Letting agents are being urged by Propertymark, which runs GDPR classes to help agents meet the law’s requirements to take note of the ICO’s warning.

The organisation’s chief executive, Nathan Emerson, said: “Propertymark understands the importance of estate and letting agents complying with GDPR law and it is crucial that agents make themselves aware of the legislation in order to avoid any breaches or legal fines.

“Propertymark advises estate and letting agents to register and attend the webinar where they will receive expert help and advice.”

To help agents, Propertymark is running the ‘Unlocking the Mysterious World of GDPR’ free webinar on 9 January.

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