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Updated Guide For Rentals

Updated Guide For Rentals

Details on how would be tenants’ personal information can be gathered have been given a refresh, writes Sharon Cullwick.

By: Sharon Cullwick

1 December 2021

The Privacy Commission has released its updated guidelines for the rental accommodation sector. Here are its guidelines around information you may request at each of the five steps involved in selecting a tenant and managing a rental property.

Viewing The Property

• Name and contact phone number only.
• You may give prospective tenants an application form before viewing the property, but they shouldn’t be required to fill it in beforehand.

Applying For Tenancy (After Selecting Preferred Tenant)

• Name and contact information.
• Proof of identity.
• Whether the applicant is aged 18 or older.
• Number of occupants who will reside at the property.
• Names of other occupants, such as children.
• Contact details of references e.g., landlord and non-landlord references.
• Signed consent that you may contact their referees.
• Consent for a credit report and criminal record check (only if you are in negotiation with a tenant and about to make an offer of tenancy).
• Pet ownership (if there are restrictions at the property).
• Whether any occupants are smokers.
• Whether the tenant has a legal right to remain in New Zealand for the duration of a tenancy (only for fixed term).

Checking Shortlisted Applicants

• Date of birth and copies of ID which will allow you to carry out credit and criminal record checks.
• One form of evidence that the tenant can pay rent e.g., payslip, a letter from employer or Work and Income.

Preparing Agreement

• Vehicle information (if necessary for parking on the premises) .
• Address for service (where you can send correspondence to tenant).
• Emergency contact of tenant.
• Work and Income client number if rent is paid using a benefit and you can show the client number is necessary for managing the tenancy.

Managing Tenancy

• House inspection notes and photos (wherever possible, you should avoid photographing

You Can't Ask About:

• Age and sex of tenant (apart from whether the tenants are over 18).
• Relationship or family status.
• Political opinion, religion or ethical belief.
• Colour, race, or ethnicity (including nationality or citizenship).
• Physical or mental disability or illness.
• Employment status.
• Sexual orientation or gender identity.
• Whether the tenants have experienced or are experiencing family violence.
• Employment history.
• Social media URLs.

The Privacy Commission will be carrying out surveys and monitoring forms used by landlords and property managers to establish if guidelines are being adhered to. Mystery shoppers and education modules will help determine how successful these guidelines are at being rolled out. Non-compliant landlords and property managers will receive letters on how to improve their systems, with the most severe cases resulting in a public interest enquiry and a public statement naming the agency involved. If further action is required, the Director of Human Rights will be notified. Information gathered on a potential tenant, or a tenant who no longer resides at the property, must be destroyed. Requirements in the RTA and those specified by the MBIE and Compliance override the Privacy Act.

Sharon Cullwick, Executive Officer, NZ Property Investors’ Federation