ICO say Social Landlords need to do more to protect tenants’ sensitive data
A recent report by the Information Commissioners Office has found that social landlords need to do more to protect their tenants’ data.
Based on the findings from 9 visits and 4 audits of Housing Associations and “Arm’s-length management organisations”, the ICO found that social landlords need to improve their policies and procedures regarding data sharing, data retention and homeworking – in order to better comply with the Data Protection Act.
The ICO report said ‘housing organisations often have a requirement to regularly share personal data with other organisations’.
It also said: ‘Unfortunately they tend not to have formal policies and procedures to mandate sharing.‘
John-Pierre Lamb, group manager at ICO, said: ‘Social housing organisations have to handle vast amounts of sensitive personal information so it is critical they understand their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act.
‘Our report uncovered areas where the sector needs to improve, including data sharing and retention, but also areas where good practice was evident such as physical security. Clear policies and procedures along with appropriate training and high staff awareness are the cornerstones of good data protection and will help prevent future breaches.’
At some point this year credit rating provider Experian plan to include 600,000 rental records, via social housing providers who’s tenants have paid late, that lenders will have access to.
Seeing as LRS has been including late rent payments, as well as property damages incurred throughout each tenancy, for nearly 4 years now, and offering access to this information to our members for “free” we do not think that it is at all helpful (or morally acceptable for that matter) to carry out a data collection exercise that is hidden behind the premise of helping social housing tenants avoid debt – when in the cold light of day many now believe it to be an exercise in gathering data to enable the likes of PC World and Wonga to lend tenants on benefits more money, and another way to make money out of those who wish to access this information.
At Landlord Referencing we completely understand the importance of the correct handling of sensitive data, which is why we DO NOT pass on or sell ANY sensitive data to third parties. We don’t even pass on any sensitive data to our community of landlord and letting agent members.
- How do landlord and letting agents reference their tenants with you then, we hear you cry?
Well, that’s where the Lifestyle Reference comes in – making us the safest and most effective way for landlords and agents to reference their potential tenants in the UK, to date.
Social Housing tenants:
- How do you feel about your personal data being sold on to giant conglomerates?
- Will this help you build your credit history & access more affordable housing in the future?
- Or will this give you more hassle via unwanted phone calls/emails/texts/etc from companies trying to sell you their products?
- After reading that the ICO do not have confidence in the way that Local Authorities, Housing Associations and Charities handle sensitive data – do you trust your Local Authority to handle your data correctly?
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