The IC What???
Since the enforcement of the GDPR regulations back in May 2018 we've had many of our landlords question as to whether or not they need to be registered with the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), and even more that have never even heard of the ICO.
The ICO's website states it is, 'The UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.'
Do I Have To Register?
In short, the answer is that most landlords should already be registered with the ICO and paying a fee under current data protection laws, but many may think they are exempt as they do not see themselves as a business and therefore rely us their Letting Agents to hold this registration.
Those who are not and currently hold or process personal data, such as their tenants' details, need to contact the ICO, register and pay the necessary fee in order to be compliant. It's a very simple process and very necessary. It requires you to provide the office with details including your name, address, trading name, number of employees and turnover.
If you purely process data manually then you are exempt from registration, although this is unlikely to apply as most landlords will process data via their PC, mobile phones or tablets.
And If I Don't Register?
Another great reason to make sure you are being compliant is that if you are not then you could face a civil penalty of up to £4350.00.
Q & A
The Residential Landlord Association recently published a blog on this with some excellent landlord's questions and answers. I have picked out the relevant ones below:
Q. What if we have an agent managing the property and they handle all of the bits around tenant ID etc.
A. It will depend whether you personally hold any data. If you have any data that would identify the tenant(s) even if that is just a name, mobile number or email address and if you hold it electronically, or if it was originally shared electronically (ie: via email or mobile phone) then you need to register.
Q. What I’m unclear about is who and how is this act “policed”? I’ve registered and paid because it’s “the law” but how does this benefit me and my tenants?
A. According to our legal advisers data subjects (ie tenants) can complain to the ICO about alleged misuse of their data – and the ICO will investigate their complaints. Additionally if landlords do not comply then if they have any claim against the tenant(s) – for unpaid rent etc – there is a risk that this could be offset by a claim from the tenant(s) that they were suffering as a result of the landlord’s non-compliance.
Q. I just got an email from my landlord with the GDPR stuff. The problem is he says the ICO fee was £100 (it’s a private landlord with only that property in the market) and wants me to pay for it. As far as I understand, this is a legal requirement for him as a landlord, not a service for me, so I understand I’m not responsible for the payment…is that right?
A. This is very poor behaviour and you do not have any obligation to pay this fee, as you say.
I would definitely advise some further reading on this subject so for more detailed information and advice from the Information Commissioners Office (ICO), please check out their website - https://ico.org.uk/