Sefton trial case – Landlords Alliance

by Larry Sweeney

9:21 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Sefton trial case – Landlords Alliance

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Sefton trial case – Landlords Alliance

As a matter of urgency, we ask all members and Property118 readers to email the information commissioner:  casework@ico.org.uk.

The basis of our complaint is that, as landlords we cannot sign up to Sefton’s new licensing scheme because it is not GDPR compliant. They ask for details of landlords properties outside of their area. This is excessive and not necessary, and is therefore, a breach. They may ask us for details which outline where we may have licences, in order to verify that we are fit and proper. However, the Council asking for a list of your property addresses, cannot be justified and it is not up to landlords to ensure Council is compliant.

Secondly, the council cannot possibly maintain this data as current and up to date as landlords may sell or acquire property at any given time, and they are not obliged by law, to inform the council unless it is specifically a property licensed by Sefton.

I appreciate that you may not be interested in Sefton, but this is a trial case. If we knock Sefton, it opens the door to attacking other councils. Plus, it opens the door for landlords to sue councils for data breaches.

Please everybody, even if you have emailed the ICO before, do so again. We must keep the pressure on.

A meeting has been arranged on the 1st of March to hand over a file on this issue  to Damien Moore MP. Please can everyone remember that the power is in our numbers.

Once again, the address is: casework@ico.org.uk.
Also if you could CC in their chief executive: elizabeth.denham@ico.org.uk.

Thank you all for your valued assistance.

Best wishes,

Larry



Comments

Rennie

10:21 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Whereabouts on this page https://sefton.gov.uk/housing/landlord-portal.aspx
do we find what they are asking for please?

Richard Peeters

10:29 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

It's a wider issue than selective licensing … just sent this off, hope it helps!
Dear ICO team,
It has come to my attention that a large group of landlords has raised a complaint with your office regarding non-compliant activity of a local authority. Their case is against a new selective licensing scheme being introduced by Sefton Council, a scheme which is claimed is not GDPR compliant.
The scheme asks for details of landlords’ properties outside of the Sefton area. This is excessive and not necessary, and is therefore, a breach. The Council may ask applicants for details which outline in which local authority areas applicants may already have licences, in order to verify that applicants are fit and proper. However, it cannot be justified for the Council to require a list of actual property addresses outside of Sefton. It is not up to landlords to ensure Council is compliant (with GDPR or other regulations).
Secondly, the Council cannot possibly maintain this data as current and up to date, as landlords may sell or acquire property at any given time, and they are not obliged by law, to inform the Council unless it is specifically a property licensed by Sefton.
We do not have properties in the Sefton area, but last year, when the HMO regulations changed effective 1 October 2018, many more HMOs fell under the expanded HMO licensing regime. We had to apply for licenses in three separate local authority areas, and ALL three insisted that we provide actual addresses of our existing HMOs, and those for which we were intending to apply, including properties outside of their respective areas.
This is a widespread problem, not limited to one local authority or one scheme.
The three local authorities from which we have applied for new HMO licenses, and which we believe are breaching GDPR regulations (by requiring non-essential data that cannot be properly managed by them) are: Dacorum Borough Council, Watford Borough Council, and Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council.
I therefore ask that you kindly investigate not just the selective licensing scheme of Sefton Council, and other similar selective licensing schemes across the country, but also ALL mandatory HMO licensing schemes which require applicants to provide property addresses outside of the respective local authority areas.
Sincerely,

Larry Sweeney

10:36 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Replying to Richard. It is widespread and the ICO stand by. We have had a similar complaint re Tower Hamlets.
We have no problem what so ever disclosing names of other councils whete we hold licences in order for the LA to verify that a landlord has not been banned elsewhere. That is fine, but requesting details of a landlords properties around the country is grossly excessive , serves no purpose and cannot be maintained current.
This must be addressed by the ICO as a matter of urgency.

James Mann

10:46 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Done!

Marty K

10:54 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Done.

James Barnes

11:39 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

I'd advise you to have a look at the the Regulations below, available at:

http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2006/373/pdfs/uksi_20060373_en.pdf

The Licensing and Management of Houses in Multiple Occupation and Other Houses (Miscellaneous Provisions) (England) Regulations 2006

SCHEDULE 2 Regulation 7(1), (2) and (3)
Content of applications under sections 63 and 87 of the Act

2. (e) details of other HMOs or houses that are licensed under Part 2 or 3 of the Act in respect of which the proposed licence holder is the licence holder, whether in the area of the local housing authority to which the application is made or in the area of any other local housing authority;

There may be a discussion to be had on keeping information up to date but if the legislation requires certain information be included in HMO licence applications then you're really up against it in my opinion!

Larry Sweeney

11:44 AM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

GDPR legislation overides. Furthermore they are applying it to selective licensing not just HMO and even if they could require the info, it is impossible to maintain it current and up to date. There is no legislation mandating a landlord to inform his local council everytime he conducts a property transaction else where in the country. It is sheer stupidity.

James Barnes

12:01 PM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Reply to the comment left by Larry Sweeney at 14/02/2019 - 11:44
I'm not sure that GDPR would "override", I would think that HMO licencing would probably fall into one of the GDPR exemptions actually. A quick look online and I've found "GDPR does not apply to government agencies and law enforcement when data are collected and processed for the prevention, investigation, detection, or prosecution of criminal offenses or the execution of criminal penalties or for preventing threats to public safety".
In any case the the HMO regulations I referenced in my previous post applies to selective licencing and other accommodation (Housing Act 2004, Part 3) as well as licencing of houses in multiple occupation (Housing Act 2004, Part 2).

It's not that I don't support what you're trying to do here, in fact challenging new legislation in such a way helps to ensure it's fit for purpose. It's just that I don't believe there's much prospect of success here.

Larry Sweeney

12:03 PM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

James Barnes does make a valid point. Sefton quoted those regulations to me..
Landlords should reply to councils stating that they desperately want one of these fantastic licences, however do not want any involvement in a council scheme to circumvent GDPR. Before we proceed could the council please outline how they intend to maintain the data current and up to date as landlords have no obligation to supply councils with their property transaction details around the country. The landlord should in fact complain that the authority is preventing him obtaining a licence with this excessive demand.

Larry Sweeney

12:48 PM, 14th February 2019
About 6 months ago

Thanks again James ,you comments are constructive. Having said that I personally had a complaint upheld against LCC by the ICO some time back. The nature of the complaint was that LCC were seeking to much data which was not relevant. It concerned their application form also. There is therefore precedent and proof that Sefton council are in the mire. Over to the ICO.

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