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General Data Protection Regulation for Landlords

Posted on 22 May, 2018 at 7:45 Comments comments (0)

What are the implications of GDPR for landlords? Everyone's asking at this time with the regulation coming into effect on May 25th.

The short answer is: Not as much as you might fear. This summary is intended as a pragmatic briefing for landlords to be able to carry on their business and remain compliant.

Why are there not a lot of implications for landlords? Because if landlords are already compliant with existing data protection regulations, there's little extra to consider.

The main concerns of data protection and GDPR are 'Who you share'other personal data with, and that data is used for the 'purpose' for which it was obtained - subject to certain exceptions mentioned below.

(1) Registering with The Information Commissioners's Office each year at a cost of £40.00. Existing and in future.

If the landlord processes / stores personal data electronically (would include keeping tenants numbers on your phone) then you should register.

It could be considered a matter of scale and personal judgement. Are you a landlord with a few properties where you keep paper copies of certain documents such as tenancy agreement, gas safety certificates in a file or folder?

If the landlord can operte their business in the above manner, then registering with the ICO can be legitimately avoided (see www.ico.org.uk  Registration Self-Assessment).

If you complete this self-assessment - 

Q1. Do you use CCTV for crime prevention? If answer NO and

Q2 Are you processing personal information? If answer YES (which ALL landlords do) and

Q3 Do you process the information electronically? If answer is NO

then you are under no obligation to register, although you may do so voluntarily.

(2) Under GDPR, all landlords will be data controllers and will collect / use/ process and store necessary information securely and without improper disclosure. (This is what landlords already do).

One of the main principles of GDPR that will affect some businesses and probably estate / letting agents, is that data may only be used for the purpose for which it was collected and with the specific consent of that person. In other words, a business or agent couldn't store client details and mass-mail them about an unconnected matter / offer.

As a data controller, there are up to 6 lawful basis upon which data may be processed. Landlords will use up to 4 of them. You don't have to pre-specify which individual ground different items of information are being collected, viz: 

CONSENT - Tenants provide personal data on request. S/he can withdraw this consent, but if there's another lawful reason why a landlord requires to retain it (legal obligation or legitimate interest) it may be retained.

If the data subject (tenant) asks for information to be removed / deleted, and a landlord has one of the lawful basis for retaining (see below), they should be told they can complain to the Information Commissioner.

CONTRACT - Collecting details to decide / form a contract (tenancy agreement).

LEGAL OBLIGATION: For example Right to Rent, HMRC and compliance with various regulations and legislation. Court action for tenancy issues - Possession. A civil action can be brought up to 6 years after an event and retaining information about a tenancy could be justified on this ground.

LEGITIMATE INTEREST: Notifying legitimate interested parties , e.g. council tax and utility providers.

Landlords will require a LOT of personal data, financial, credit, next of kin, employment, etc, etc. in order to make a business decision on granting a tenancy, and GDPR does not prevent this. Just store it and use it in accordance with the above.

(3) Data must be kept safe and secure. If a landlord was storing personal data electronically, then the device should be password

- protected. Storage in paper form in secure location in a locked cabinet. Most houses are hopefully secure.

(4) Third parties processing / passing information requires and always has the consent of the subject unless another lawful basis applies. This isn't rocket science and if a tenant reports a plumbing issue, landlord would e-mail tenant (thus keeping a record) if they agree to their contact number and name being provided to a plumber. Otherwise there are going to be a lot of 3-way conversations on arranging suitable appointments.

Having provided this information, the data processor (landlord) has to be assured that the third party is data compliant.

The legislation suggests that you should ask for a copy of the contractor's data management policy before disclosing data.

For longer term relationships such as letting agents, data policies should be requested (and retained) for assurance that each are complying with the data protection principles. But for ad-hoc repairs - are landlords going to contact various plumbers and ask them to e-mail their data protection policy before the customer's details are provided? It can be hard enough to get a plumber already!

Landlords can pragmatically comply with the spirit of the legislation by asking the contractor via e-mail to delete the contact details of the tenant on completion of work. As a business with similar obligation for accounting as landlords, they will have to retain the address and landlords contact / payment details, which you will of course have consented to.

A Data Privacy Fair Processing Notice should be given to a data subject (tenant) explaining how you will handle their data.

Accent Lettings & Management can provide you with a sample copy of a GDPR Data Privacy Fair Processing Notice - just ask us (you don't have to be an existing client).

Charter For Rent Cheats

Posted on 25 March, 2018 at 0:15 Comments comments (0)

Plans to cap security deposits for private rented housing to six weeks rent risk creating a charter for rent cheats warns the country's leading landlord body.

Research by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) has found that 40% of private landlords have faced tenants not paying their final month's rent in the past three years.

The new cap is proposed in the Government's Draft Tenant Fees Bill and the RLA is calling for this to be increased to eight weeks to cover the costs if the final month's rent is not paid and to ensure there are sufficient extra funds to deal with any major problems some tenants leave behind.

The RLA is also warning that the Bill risks becoming a missed opportunity to improve the position of tenants. It is calling for proposals to enable tenants to transfer deposits from one home to another rather than having to raise fresh funds each time they move as they wait for their last deposit to be paid back.

It also wants the tenancy deposit process to be brought into the 21st Century by enabling papers confirming that deposits have been protected to be sent to tenants electronically which currently cannot happen.

The Office for Budget Responsibility has again warned that plans to ban letting fees paid by tenants could lead to rent rises as a result of fees being passed on.

Commenting, David Smith, the Policy Director for the RLA said: "Ministers need to address the problem of tenants failing to pay rent every bit as strongly as rogue landlords. It is not unreasonable that landlords should have the security to know that funds are available to cover the uncceptable practice of tenants who do not pay their rent at the end of the tenancy and, in some cases, leave the property in an unacceptable state.

"In a quest for quick popularity, the Government's plans risk becoming a missed opportunity for fundamental reforms to improve tenant's ability to access rented housing."

The research findings are contained within a report by the Residential Landlord Association's (RLA) research exchange, PEARL. Almost 3,300 landlords responded to its questions.

Cuddly Corbyn wants to give tenants the right to keep pets.

Posted on 19 February, 2018 at 6:20 Comments comments (0)

In an effort to win over animal-loving votes, the Labout party wants to give tenants a default right to keep pets in their rented home.

Landlords can only refuse permission under the 2015 Consumer Rights Act if it is reasonable to do so, for reasons such as the animal's size, possible damage and impact on future rental demand.

However, Labour wants landlords to have to prove the pet will be a nuisance before keeping it can be refused. Therefore, this would stop landlords being able to advertise properties with a no pet policy.

The plans also include giving low income earners help with vets bills!

Labour party shadow environment secretary, Sue Hayman, said: "People shouldn't be denied the joy of keeping a pet just because they can't afford a home of their own. For the majority of people under 30, buying a home is sadly less and less an affordable option.

"I believe the five million households who are forced to rent really shouldn't be denied the joy of keeping a pet. Pets are not only good company, but they can also help to reduce stress to their owners.

"So we want to consult with landlords to see if we can give tenants the default right to keep a pet in their home, so long as they're not a nuisance. It's important we don't just design policies for those fortunate enough to own a home and we reflect the needs of the many, not the few."

The National Landlords Association's (NLA), Richard Lambert, said: "Around half of landlords say they are reluctant to allow renters to keep pets due to a perceived added risk of damage to the property and the increased cost of repair at the end of a tenancy.

"You can't take a blanket approach to keeping or refusing pets. The NLA has consistently supported schemes that encourage landlords to take on pet owners, such as The Dog's Trust's 'Let With Pets', but landlords should have a right to refuse permission so long as they can justify their decision.

"For example, common properties in the PRS (Private Rented Sector), such as high rise flats or those without gardens, may simply not be suitable for keeping some animals nor beneficial to their welfare."

In addition to the last comment by Richard, some leasehold property covenants preclude keeping pets in the building.

Rental price inflation rises in December

Posted on 30 January, 2018 at 7:00 Comments comments (0)

Average rents across the UK rose by 1.7% in December 2017 when compared to the same month previously; the average monthly rental is now £907.00.

Rents in the South-East of England were 1% lower in December 2017 than in the same month of 2016; rents fell year-on-year in the region every month of 2017.

The East Midlands saw the highest rate of rental price inflation in December, with rents up by 4.6% compared to a year previously.

Rents in the UK rose by an annualised average of 1.7% in December, new data from HomeLet reveals, as the private rental market ended 2017 with rental price inflation moving marginally higher. The average rent agreed on a new tenancy signed in December was £907 according to the December HomeLet Rental Index, compared to £892 in the same month of 2016.

Rental price inflation was much more stable over the course of 2017; by contrast, rents in 2016 regularly rose at an annual rate of more than 4% in the first half of the year, before rental price inflation dropped back in the second half.

Rental price inflation remains modest by recent standards. In December 2015, rents were up 3.7% on the same month of 2014, in a year when rental price inflation never fell below 3.5%.

The data for 2017 also means it is likely that rents rose at a slower rate than general inflation during every month of last year, with inflation on the consumer price index measure running at 3.1% in November , the most recent period for which official statistics are available.

Landlords Reluctant Under Right to Rent.

Posted on 24 December, 2017 at 11:50 Comments comments (1)

A recent survey by the Residential Landlords Association (RLA) of almost 2,800 landlords has found that 42% were reluctant to rent to those without a UK passport and 49% are less likely to rent to someone who has permission to stay in the UK for only a limited period.


RLA Policy Director David Smith wrote:


"Under the Right to Rent policy, landlords are responsible for checking the immigration status of their tenants and face prosecution if there is reasonable cause to believe that the property they are letting is occupied by someone who does not have the right to rent.


It is little wonder that faced with the threat of prosecution, landlords having been effectively turned into border police are reluctant.


Given that according to Oxford University's Migration Observatory, the foreign-born population is almost three times as likely to rent as UK born nationals, this policy is actively discriminating against them.


A policy that was designed to make the country a hostile environment for illegal immigrants is also creating a hostile environment for those who do not have a passport. This includes the 17% of legitimate UK residents who do not hold a passport.


Despite assurances from the Government about making allowances, landlords are fearful of being caught out by forged identity documents which have proliferated as a result of the policy.


Ministers might have reached some sort of Agreement with the EU last week about the status of EU nationals living in the UK, but without certainty landlords will not know who they can and cannot rent to and for how long.


Landlords cannot be blamed for being cautious when the threat of criminal prosecution hangs over them and they do not have the knowledge or experience to act as border control officers".


David Smith called for The Home Office to suspend the scheme pending full and detailed assessment of its impact on tenants and prospective tenants.



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