Privacy Breached 'Tip Line' Announced
The ‘tip line’ is being set up to protect tenants’ privacy.
1 December 2021
Tenants will be able to dob-in their landlords to a private “tip line” if they don’t like the way their personal information is being handled.
Prospective tenants will also be able to use the tip line, which is part of a new compliance monitoring programme set up by the Privacy Commission (OPC) to ensure property managers and agencies are acting in accordance with the Privacy Act.
The OPC programme will conduct regular checks on rental sector agencies, as well as an annual survey to audit application forms, contract forms, and the 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 had established the anonymous tip line 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 noncompliance,” says 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 Edwards.
Property managers, landlords, and tenants’ advocates were consulted throughout the process. OPC has also come out strongly against “bad tenant” groups online and is working with administrators to close these down. 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.