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Landlord Data Protection Obligations

Many landlords, particularly larger portfolio landlords will build up considerable amounts of data about their tenants over a period of a tenancy.

Out of curiosity I thought I’d have a look into how landlords stand in respect of the Data Protection Act 1998 and the information that they collect or their letting agent holds about their tenants and their tenancy.

Utility companies

One issue that frequently arises on in respect of a tenancy is the need for a landlord to pass on details about their tenant to one of the utility companies.
This situation is likely to arise where the tenant has failed to inform their utility company of a change of tenancy or where in some cases the landlord wishes to change the energy or telecom supplier.

Under the Data Protection laws a landlord is able to pass these details on to a utility company. In both cases it is good practice for the landlord to also inform the tenant that they intend to pass on their details.

Letting agents

Frequently a letting agent will carry out a referencing of a tenant on behalf of a landlord. In this situation can the letting agent then pass on the information to the landlord? Again the law allows the letting agent to pass these details on, along with any obtained from a referee provided the tenant was informed at the time that they were going to do so.

Name and shame

I’ve had a few landlords voice the idea of naming and shaming bad or poorly paying tenants, in a "most wanted outlaw’ kind of public exposure. However, under the Data Protection Act listing publicly a tenants name and details is against the law.

Many landlords would maintain that this kind of facility is exactly what landlords need to stop serial scammers.
Especially in light of a recent attempt by the previous government to instigate a similar system for under performing landlords.

The law does not specifically inhibit a landlord from forwarding details of the tenant to a tracing agent or debt collector in order to retrieve rent and other monies owed to them.

This is a brief outline of the data protection law affecting landlords as it currently stands.

For more information on data protection issues you can contact the Information Commission Office , Phone: 08456 30 60 60 (Lo-call rate) or 01625 54 57 45 (National rate).

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