30 Nov 2015

While real estate agents can utilise tenancy databases in connection with the rental properties they manage, they must follow legislative requirements, Commissioner for Fair Trading Rod Stowe said.

“Tenancy databases are an informational resource. They can help lessors make informed decisions when assessing tenancy applications,” Mr Stowe said.

Tenancy databases are run by private companies and collect information about persons deemed as ‘problem tenants’ by real estate agents, landlords and residential park operators.

Mr Stowe said the guidelines for who, when and why a tenant can be listed on a database are outlined in the Residential Tenancies Act 2010.

A tenant can only be listed in a tenancy database if:

  • their residential tenancy agreement has been terminated by order of the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal; and/or
  • they owed an amount exceeding the rental bond for a breach of the tenancy agreement which is still outstanding at the time of the listing.

“The Residential Tenancies Act brings fairness and transparency to the use of tenancy databases,” Mr Stowe said.

“Sadly, unfair listings are not unheard of. While the legislation recognises the right of landlords to take steps in protecting their property, being listed on a tenancy database can have serious consequences for the person listed.”

Before a listing can be made, the tenant must be given at least 14 days notice to review the
information and be able to object to the proposed listing.

If a prospective tenant is found on a database by an agent, the agent must inform the tenant in writing within seven days of the database being accessed. Outdated listings or listings older than three years must be removed from a database.

A tenant can dispute proposed or existing listings in the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal if the matter could not be solved with their agent or landlord.

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