As a landlord you need to collect information about your tenants – but what sort of information can you ask for, and how do you make sure you use that information responsibly?
The Privacy Act 2020 (the Act) sets out the rules on what personal information people or agencies collect and how to store, use, disclose and give people access to their personal information. As a landlord or property manager, you need to comply with this Act.
Only collect what you need
The Officer of the Privacy Commissioner says a good question to ask yourself when you’re collecting information is ‘what information do I need for this purpose?’.
- if you’re arranging property viewings, all you need is the name and contact information because you’ll need to follow up with them after the viewing, and you may need to use this information for COVID-19 contact tracing purposes.
- if people are applying for a tenancy you will need more information because the purpose is to help you select the preferred applicants. Information you need for this could include proof of identity, referees and consent to contact them, consent for a credit report and criminal record check.
- if you have chosen your preferred applicants you will need information to help confirm that the preferred applicants are likely to be suitable tenants. Information that you need for this could be additional information to carry out a credit report and criminal record check, evidence of their ability to pay rent such as a pay slip or evidence of rent payments in a previous tenancy.
When you are collecting this information you need to tell the person why you are collecting it, how it’s going to be used, who will hold that information and who it will be shared with.
Some of the information you shouldn’t collect includes:
- Evidence of spending habits, for example asking for a detailed bank statement.
- Sex, sexual orientation, relationship or family status.
- Political opinion or religious belief.
- Age (other than asking if the person is over 18).
Keep it secure
Once you have collected personal information it is important to look after it properly.
This means making sure you keep that information secure so that it can’t be accessed by people that aren’t authorised to see it. That’s why it’s a good idea to only collect and retain the information you really need. The less information you hold, the less risk there is of sensitive information being lost or misused.
Tenants can request to see the information you hold
Tenants have a right to request to see the information you hold about them and to ask for any incorrect information you have about them to be corrected.
If they do ask for the personal information you hold about them, you must respond promptly (no later than 20 working days after the day on which the request is received) and provide the information they’ve asked for, unless there is a legitimate reason for withholding it.
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner has helpful resources for landlords and tenants on their website.
Privacy information for the rental sector(external link) — Office of the Privacy Commissioner
Tenancy Services has information about pre-tenancy applications on our website.Back to News