The Privacy Commissioner’s list of data sought from prospective tenants that is “almost never justified” shows a “do as I say not as I do” double standard from a government that does not practise what it preaches, Tenancies War spokesman Mike Butler said today. The 19 categories of off-limits data include:
- Broad consent to collect personal information from “other sources”
- Driver licence number
- Credit card information
- Nationality, ethnicity, origin or citizenship
- Physical or mental disability or illness
- Personal beliefs or opinions
- Marital and family status
- Gender and sexual orientation
- Rent paid at previous tenancy
- Sports and hobbies
- Current expenses
- Conflicts with previous neighbour tenants or building managers
- Proof of insurance
- Languages spoken
- Details about current accommodation
- Banking history
- Employment history
- Age (apparently one can ask if they are over – 18. Just not exact age)
- Employment status.
However, Government departments routinely collect such forbidden information. For instance, the questionnaire for those applying for super includes six of those categories:
- Three forms of ID including date of birth
- Partner’s three forms of ID including date of birth
- Proof of bank account numbers
- Whether you are male or female.
- What date you married
- Where you live and whether you live there with your partner
Since these are only guidelines to rental property owners and managers to avoid seeking such information, then should Government departments be “guided” to do the same, as well as banks and insurance companies, not to mention employers, and the mountain of information required under anti-money-laundering law.
Also, the Privacy Commissioner doesn’t seem to understand the process of selecting a tenant.
A spokesman said that “viewing proof of identity and checking the references should come after a preferred candidate has been decided on”.
But reaching a decision on a preferred candidate is based on information provided in the application that the commissioner wants to put off-limits.