Landlord Data Protection Compliance

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Data protection and related standards have gained more attention than ever in recent years, largely due to the EU’s 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  GDPR was kept in UK law when Britain exited the EU. It’s a data privacy regulation that controls the processing of personal data from individuals in the UK and offers people additional rights over how their data is used and managed. Nearly all websites now ask for your permission to use cookies when accessing.

The Data Protection Act 2018, which is the UK’s implementation of GDPR after Brexit, is supervised by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). 

ICO is ‘the UK’s independent authority established to protect information rights in the public interest, encouraging transparency by organizations and data privacy for people.  Organizations that process personal data must pay a fee to the ICO unless exempt under the 2018 Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations.

As a landlord, you’ll keep or use a tenant’s personal information, making you a ‘data controller’ obligated to follow GDPR.  As part of an effort to raise awareness about how important it is to provide complete protection, ICO sent a call to action to landlords in the previous year, requesting that they check to see whether they were required to register and pay a fee.

No matter how many properties you manage, how many tenants you have, or how many people you engage with, the fees remain payable, as mentioned by ICO.

According to the ICO and the National Residential Landlords Association (NRLA), to comply with existing data protection rules, the vast majority of landlords should have already registered with the ICO and paid the appropriate fee.  Some landlords assume they are exempt since they are not a business and rely on their rental agent for registration. Even if your rental agent is registered, you still must.

Landlords who use personal information to make tenancy contracts, do credit checks through a credit reference agency or get references are considered to be running a business and must register with ICO and pay a data protection fee.

Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) created a self-assessment tool for landlords to check whether or not they need to register, as well as answers to commonly asked questions, to support the campaign.

Landlords are required to supply the office with information such as their name, address, trading name, number of workers, turnover, credit and debit card information, and so on before they can register. Those individuals who manually process data in any way are exempt from registration. ICO fees range from £40 to £2,900 per year, depending on business size and fee. If you do not want to be late with a payment to the ICO, you should set up a direct debit for future payments.

Landlords owe a responsibility of care to their tenants and are required to maintain compliance with all legislative measures at all times in order to fulfil their duty.  In this situation, it is essential that you identify any documents that comply with personal information and evaluate whether or not you are in compliance with the requirements outlined in the GDPR.
If you fail to register with the ICO and are found out in the process, you might be subject to a civil penalty that ranges from £400 to £4,350.

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