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Privacy Commissioner Cracks Down On Compliance In Rental accommodation Sector

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) has today launched a new compliance monitoring programme to ensure that property managers and agencies are acting in accordance with the Privacy Act.

Through the compliance monitoring programme, OPC will carry out regular checks of rental sector agencies, as well as an annual survey to audit application forms, contract forms, and privacy policies of letting agencies, property managers, and third-party service providers.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says tenants and prospective tenants need to have confidence in the way their personal information has been collected, used, stored, and disclosed by their landlord or property manager. For this reason, OPC has also established an anonymous tipline to enable tenants or prospective tenants to report concerns about the handling of their personal information.

“As we move into this compliance phase, rental sector agencies must be aware of their obligations and responsibilities. There are now no excuses for over-collection and unauthorised use of personal information and there will be consequences for non-compliance,” says Mr Edwards.

Alongside the new compliance monitoring programme, OPC has launched new guidance for tenants, landlords, and others in the rental accommodation sector.

“We have developed this guidance to clarify the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords under the Privacy Act. The guidance spells out what information may be requested at every stage of the rental process. We want to make it easy for landlords and property managers to know what they should and shouldn’t collect, and for prospective tenants to understand what they can and can’t be asked for,” says Mr Edwards.

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Property managers, landlords, and tenants’ advocates were consulted throughout the development process. OPC has also come out strongly against ‘bad tenant’ groups online, working with administrators to close these down.

The guidance and factsheets are available online.

Consequences for non-compliance include:

  • Warning letters
  • Access Directions
  • Compliance notices
  • Referral to the Human Rights Review Tribunal
  • Public Interest Inquiry
  • Public naming of agency

The penalty for failure to comply with a Compliance Notice is a fine of up to $10,000.

Tenants or prospective tenants who are concerned that their information has been compromised, or that too much is being asked of them, can contact the Office of the Privacy Commissioner anonymously to report a privacy concern

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