Data Protection Regulations and Landlords

There is some new data protection regulation which will impact landlords and which will come into force from May 2018, says David Lawrenson of www.LettingFocus.com.

It’s all kind of boring, but also important.

Data Protection Regulations and Landlords

Officially called the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the new regulations are part on an EU wide system covering data protection that our government has said it supports and which will therefore remain in force, even after we leave the EU.

The new regulations strengthen the currently in-force data rules and build on them a little.

Landlords will need to ensure they obtain consent to process data and there will need to be tighter record keeping.

So what do you need to do?

Well, it’s pretty basic and obvious really.

Any tenant data you hold must be held reasonably securely, (so no leaving it on a disk on train!), and you can only pass it on to someone else if you are legally allowed to – for example to the police.

And you must not retain it for longer than necessary.

Landlords are advised to now ensure they give their tenants a Privacy Notice to let them know what can be done by you with the data you hold on them. The privacy notice could form part of the tenancy agreement that they sign.

Under data protection law, a persons’ personal data is protected. This would include things like their name, addresses ((current and past), phone numbers, job information, dates of birth, rent payment records, credit search information, utility bills or bank statements and national insurance numbers. These, are, of course, all bits of information that you might collect in the course of evaulating a tenant as part of your standard referencing checks.

Even just a list of tenants’ name on a personal computer would count as personal data under the regulations. And an email address or phone number could also qualify on its own, where that individual could be identified from that email address of phone number.

Data Controller

So, as you can see, as a landlord, you will be classed as a “data controller” – which is defined as the person who decides the purpose and way in which any personal data is processed – even if you use a letting agent for finding and managing tenants.

The Information Commisioner’s Office is the body responsible for data protection and it has published some useful guidance for landlords and tenants covering situations where it would be OK for you to part with with tenants’ data.

Since breaches of data protection can lead to a criminal prosecution as well as a civil penalty it is worth making sure you take care with tenants’ personal data.

It’s worth taking a look at this useful summary from the Residential Landlords Association: https://www.rla.org.uk/landlord/guides/data-protection-legislation-for-landlords.shtml

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We advise a range of organisations including banks, building societies, local authorities, social housing providers, institutional investors and insurers. We help them develop and improve their services and products for private landlords. David Lawrenson, founder of LettingFocus, also writes for property portals, speaks at property events and is regularly quoted by the media.

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