Tenancy Databases (Qld)
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 Queensland is governed by the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, 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 stored on a database. A person cannot be listed unless:
- they were named as a tenant;
- the lease has ended;
- the reason for listing is prescribed under the regulations.
Reasons for listing under the regulations include unpaid rent, objectionable behaviour, repeated breaches, money owing after abandonment, and money owing under a conciliation agreement or Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) order.
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.
A rental provider must advise a potential tenant of any databases they intend to search, and how the potential tenant can contact the database operator and obtain information.
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provider lists information on a database and becomes aware the information is inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date, the rental provider must notify the database operator of this within 7 days, and advise the operator of how the information must be amended or that it must be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 can be charged for this.
Breaches of these requirements carry a maximum penalty of between 20 penalty units ($2757) and 40 penalty units ($5514).
A person can apply to QCAT 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. The person must apply within 6 months of becoming aware of the listing.
QCAT 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 reasons for the listing;
- the person’s involvement in the circumstances that led to the listing;
- adverse consequences for the person from the listing;
- any other matter.
The order can be made against any person, including the database operator and the person who listed the information. Anyone who does not comply with a QCAT order faces a maximum fine of 50 penalty units ($6892.50). QCAT can also order compensation be paid to a person affected by the non-compliance.
For information or advice in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.