New Data Protection Legislation for Landlords and Letting Agents
Although it looks like we will be eventually leaving the EU, until that happens we still must abide by any new EU Legislation, it is also a safe bet that most EU legislation will be adopted into UK law.
With all that in mind are you aware of the new EU data protection legislation which is due for introduction in May 2018.
First let’s look at what happens should you fail to comply with the data protection legislation. Should you not comply and are then prosecuted you could face fines of up to 4% of your turnover. Now 4% does not appear to be a high percentage but remember it is of turnover not profit.
The new legislation will replace the current Data protection act 1998, the main impact is how landlords and letting agents collect and use individual’s personal data. With those individuals gaining further protection than currently experienced from the current act.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines will further strengthen individuals’ data protection rights. The regulation adds protection to consent remember those confusing tick and untick boxes on forms, profiling, transparency and administrative fines.
I would recommend carrying out your own research or employing a data protection consultant to audit your data protection procedures as the fines are normally high when breaching this act.
As mentioned earlier one of the main changes is the ban of the use of pre-ticked opt-in boxes, which means failure to opt out will not constitute consent. Letting agents will need to keep clear records to demonstrate individuals’ consent. Many will need to update their online contact forms to accommodate these changes.
Further changes are that individuals must also explicitly agree to their data being used for different purposes. How does that impact on landlords and letting agents? You will have to show documented consent to pass on tenant’s details to say a property maintenance firm to carry out maintenance work. In addition, tenants could ask for all their contact details from their records. It does raise a question about any rogue landlord or rogue tenant databases being kept by third parties.
Speaking to a leading national letting agent, they claimed although not massive changes, it will require a more detailed auditable trail of any individual’s data.
I am not sure the Information Commissioner’s Office will give any honeymoon period for letting and landlords post 2018 as they have been encouraging businesses to review how they are seeking, obtaining and recording consent personal data for some time.