New regulations have recently come into force which will affect landlords regarding the information they keep about their tenants. The General Data Protection Regulation came into effect on May 25, so landlords will need to make sure they are ready to comply with the regulations by then. Basically, it means more rights for people whose personal data you collect. As landlords, you will have data regarding your tenants such as names and addresses, social security numbers, account numbers, and email addresses. This personal data belongs to the individuals concerned, so that means your tenants actually own it. As a landlord, you are a custodian of the data.
Under GDPR, landlords and property agents must now demonstrate how they comply with the new regulations. They need to show accountability. It concerns anyone who resides in the EU or passes through the European Union. That means it will affect all tenants in the UK, regardless of their country of origin. Landlords need to ensure that this personal data is kept safe and secure. The data collected must also be relevant, so there shouldn’t be extra information collected that is not relevant to a tenant renting a property. This data concerns information held electronically, say on a computer, and also that held in paper files. Using special apps, such as landlord software, to collect and store information is a secure way to keep files because the information can be encrypted to keep it secure and ensure it cannot get into the hands of the wrong people. Landlords need to let tenants know they are storing their data and that they have the right to access it. The personal data has to be accurate and up-to-date, as well as stored for a limited time.
Landlords will need to prepare a new privacy statement which complies with GDPR. It is a good time to review what personal information you hold and why you are holding it. You should also look at how you are using this data and how long you will keep it. Tenants and potential tenants need to be provided with this privacy statement. It could be a link on your website which they are encouraged to click through to. They could have to tick a box to say they have read and agreed with the privacy statement. You will also need to get tenants’ consent to hold this information and to keep a record of how you obtained their consent. With software, all of this can be automated to make it much easier. Access to the data also needs to be restricted, so that only those who need to see the information have access to it. This could mean making sure computers and access to software or apps are password-protected and that all computers and phones are kept secure.
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