The Information Commissioners Officer (ICO) has been writing to many landlords where they feel registration with the ICO is necessary and where they believe a data protection fee payment may be payable.
This begs the question do landlords need to register with the ICO and pay the annual data protection fee?
The surprisingly short answer to the question is: Yes
Of course it’s not always possible to be unequivocal and yes there is the caveat that the obligation applies unless there is an exemption etc etc but the ICO’s website highlights just how landlords’ process personal data and how this processing triggers the obligation to register with the ICO.
The ICO website’s FAQ section states in relation to Landlords:
I’m a landlord – do I need to pay?
If you are processing personal data for the purpose of producing tenancy agreements/contracts, performing credit checks via a credit reference agency on prospective tenants and obtaining references. This would require you to pay a data protection fee.
Given how unlikely a landlord would:
– not have a tenancy agreement;
– not perform a credit check; or
– not obtain and check a tenant’s references;
it would be more than fair to say that the obligation to register with the ICO registration will be triggered by most landlords. The annual fee depends on the size and turnover of the landlord and for most organisations it’s £40 or £60. It is worth noting that the fee can be up to £2,900 for businesses who employ many people and have a high annual turnover.
The ICO website FAQ section goes further in relation to Landlords that have letting agents who manage their properties, stating:
I’m a landlord but have a letting agent to fully manage my property – do I need to pay?
If you are using a letting agent who fully manages the letting of the property and you only receive a monthly statement and rent, this would fall under the accounts and records exemption. The accounts and records exemption is intended to cover any personal data processed in electronic format to provide invoicing and your own accounts.
However, if as a landlord you create a database of potential tenants, make any decision to which tenant can rent your property and/or you receive electronic copies of tenancy agreements then payment of fee is required.
I hold personal data about members for my: residents’ management company; property management company; flat management company or freehold management company. The information I process is for the purpose of maintaining the property and looking after the communal area – do I need to pay a fee?
If you are processing information such as:
- Personal details on each residents
- Financial payments – e.g. how much each resident pays into the account
- Maintenance requests
- Decisions on what suppliers to use e.g. builder/gardener
- How much to spend on each area of the property
- Dispute resolution between residents
- CCTV for crime prevention
- Meeting notes
Yes, you are required to pay a fee. This processing is for the purpose of property management and you are unable to rely on an exemption.
A link to this FAQ section is located here: https://ico.org.uk/rst
Of course, this begs a further question: Is it worth looking at the exemptions? Maybe… it usually always depends on your circumstances.
Contact our Corporate & Commercial Team
If you are a landlord and would like help determining whether you are required to register with the ICO and whether you need pay the data protection fee or if you have any queries concerning your obligations, please contact Michael Kashis in the Corporate & Commercial team or call on 020 7631 4141 and ask for a member of the team.
The above is accurate as at 21 October 2022. The information above may be subject to change during these ever-changing times.
The content of this note should not be considered legal advice and each matter should be considered on a case-by-case basis.