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Tenancy Databases (NSW)

A tenancy database, sometimes called a “blacklist”, contains information about tenants, and is used by rental providers, such as real estate agents and landlords, to screen potential tenants. These databases are usually run by private companies, who charge a fee for access to the information. The use of such databases in New South Wales is governed by the Residential Tenancies Act 2010, as well as the commonwealth Privacy Act 1988.

How does a tenant end up in a database?

There are strict rules about information that can be listed on a database. A person’s information cannot be listed unless:

  • they were named as a tenant;
  • they breached the lease;
  • because of the breach, the person owes an amount more than the bond, or the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) has made a termination order;
  • the information identifies the nature of the breach and it is accurate, complete and unambiguous.

A person’s information must not be listed if a lease was terminated  due to domestic violence.

A person’s information must not be listed unless the listing request is from a rental provider.

Database requirements

A rental provider must not list a person’s information on a database unless they have given the person a copy of the information or taken reasonable steps to disclose it to them. The person then must be given 14 days to review it, object to its entry in the database or question its accuracy, completeness or clarity.

The information placed on the database must be accurate, complete, unambiguous and current. It must not be kept on the database for more than 3 years.

If a rental provider finds a person on a database, they are required to advise the person, within 7 days, of the information about the person that is stored on it, who listed the information, how and in what circumstances the person can have the information amended or removed, and how the applicant can obtain the information.

If a rental provider lists information on a database and becomes aware the information is inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date, the rental provider must notify the database operator of this within 7 days, and advise the operator of how the information must be amended or that it must be removed. The operator must amend or remove the information within 14 days.

A rental provider or database operator must provide a person with a copy of information held about the person on the database within 14 days of a request by the person. A fee cannot be charged for this.

Breaches of these requirements carry a maximum fine of between 10 penalty units ($1100) and 20 penalty units ($2200).

Tribunal orders

A person can apply to NCAT for an order to prohibit a rental provider from listing information about them on a database, or to have information listed on a database amended or removed.

NCAT can make an order in situations when:

  • the information is inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date;
  • listing the information would be unjust to the person, considering:
    • the reason for the listing;
    • the person’s involvement in any acts or omissions that led to the listing;
    • adverse consequences for the person from the listing;
    • any other matter.

For information or advice in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

Sally Crosswell

This article was written by Sally Crosswell

Sally Crosswell has a Bachelor of Laws (Hons), a Bachelor of Communication and a Master of International and Community Development. She also completed a Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice at the College of Law. A former journalist, Sally has a keen interest in human rights law.

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