Add or remove a tenant from a database
When can a person be listed on a database?
A person can only be listed on a residential tenancy database if:
- they were named as a tenant in a residential tenancy agreement that has ended;
- they breached the agreement; and
- because of the breach either:
- they still owe more than the security bond amount; or
- a Court has made an order terminating the residential tenancy agreement.
A lessor, agent or database operator cannot add a tenant's personal details to a residential tenancy database in relation to any rental arrears during the emergency period (being 30 March 2020 to 28 March 2021) due to financial hardship caused by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Any information recorded in a database must be accurate, complete and unambiguous, must indicate the nature of the breach and relate only to the breach.
It is unjust to list a person in a tenancy database if the reason for the listing arises from them being subjected to family violence.
What happens when listing a person on a residential tenancy database?
Lessors. agents or database operators must advise tenants in writing if they propose to list them on a tenancy database. Before listing tenants on a database, lessors, agents or database operators must also give tenants:
- details of the proposed listing, or take reasonable steps to try to advise the tenants. Lessors can do this by sending a letter to the tenants’ new address (if known) or to the address of the rented premises (in case any mail is being redirected); and
- at least 14 days to review the personal information and object to the entry into the database or object to the accuracy, completeness and clarity of the information to be listed .
The lessor, agent or database operator must consider the objections provided by the tenant.
What if a tenant is listed on the database?
If a lessor or agent discovers a prospective tenant has been listed on a database, the lessor or agent must give the tenant written notice within seven days after using the database stating, without charging a fee:
- the name of the database;
- personal information about them is in the database;
- the name of each person who listed the personal information (if identified in the database); and
- how and in what circumstances the prospective tenant can have the personal information removed or amended.
Lessors do not have to advise tenants of the reason for the listing. Tenants are entitled to a copy of the information from the person who listed them (free of charge) or direct from the database operator. The database operator can charge a fee for the information but it must not be excessive.
Some database operators also provide information over the phone, but high charges may apply.
Removal of out-of-date, incorrect or unjust listings
Any listing older than three years must be removed from a database by the database operator. In addition, if the person was under 18 when they were listed, the listing must be removed when they turn 18.
Listings less than three years old must also be removed if they are 'out-of-date'. Out-of-date listings include:
- the tenant owed more than the bond but repaid it within three months after the amount was due; and
- a termination order was made by the Court but was set aside on appeal.
Listings also need to be amended if the information is inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous.
A person can also seek to have their name removed from a tenancy database if they think the listing is unjust.
The real estate agent or lessor who listed the information, must notify the database operator about how to amend the information or remove it within seven days of them becoming aware the information needs to be changed. The database operator then has fourteen days to have it removed or amended.
The laws apply to all listings, including any listings made before the new laws commenced.
Always try to resolve any disagreement with your tenant through negotiation. If you cannot resolve the matter, the tenant can lodge a complaint with Consumer Protection or apply to the Magistrates Court to have incorrect, out-of-date, ambiguous or unjust listings removed.
The Court can make orders for information about a tenant in the database to be wholly or partly removed, changed or not listed at all if it was a proposed listing.
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