Friday, April 20, 2012

Residential Tenancy Databases: One year on

The Brown Couch has been asked a number of times recently about tenant's databases, and how it's working under the New Act. We last discussed the databases back in 2010, so we thought it might be worth a revisit.
As a quick refresher, the change to the old system is that real estate agents, landlords and database operators now have clearer responsibilities under the Residential Tenancies Act regarding the provision of information to tenants as well as the quality of listings. Tenants now have options available to them through the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal to address listings that do not comply with the Act.
The full provisions are lengthy so we won't reproduce them here, but you can access the whole provision on NSW's Legislation website.

Now that we're 12 months in to this new system, how has it been working in practice? While there are still no cases available to refer to, we have received numerous reports from Tenant Advocates around the state that cases have been proceeding to the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. All those reported have been resolved in conciliation.
While the ability to have these listings addressed is is positive news for tenants, it does lead to a question. Why are agents, landlords and operators continuing to list former tenants inaccurately with the knowledge that they will have to remove them when confronted? It should not be up to the tenant to correct dodgy listings where the law is clear.

Happily however we are also receiving reports that real estate agents are generally reporting to prospective tenants that they are listed. This allows a tenant, who has been listed wrongly, to take the necessary steps to have their listing removed or altered.

If you find yourself listed on a tenants database, check out the Tenants Union factsheet here, and get some advice from your local Tenants Advice and Advocacy Service!

1 comment:

  1. Fell fowl of a vindictive Agent and finding it is a long road to remove a wrongful listing. Agent threatened to 'black-list' us prior to taking us to the Tribunal. The matter was settled and we moved on. Thought I better check (after 3 years) as the current owner planned to sell this year. Found we were listed on TICA for 4 years - but TICA would not provide any details of why or who (after 3 requests). Tenancy Advice (TA) said apply to Tribunnal - successful in a Tribunal Order to remove listing. Re-applied to TICA to check if removed - still listed over a month from date set by Tribunal. TA said apply to the Privacy Commission. Made application (said a 6-8 week back-log). Checked progress after 3 weeks (said a further 8 weeks from that date!). Asked for urgent consideration - still waitng. Concern is that even with an order TICA boasts on their web-site that they can set up a 'private database' for agents that is not subject to state legislation (to track tenants). Will keep you posted how it turns out (over 6 months now). Glad we haven't been given notice yet!Think Tenant Databases (at least TICA) should be shut down.


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