View Full Version : Data protection liability question
07-12-2005, 22:07 PM
Another theoretical(kinda) question, more a DPA/legal one than a letting one but never mind!
If a tenant has, for example, got a £500 credit card bill, and moves out, without changing the address for the credit card, and say 6 months later demand letters start coming etc. If the landlord/agent(more thinking agents here) gave the ex-tenants address to the credit card company, would the tenant be able to successfully sue the agent/landlord for anything at all, or more specifically their financial loss(which would be the debt!).
08-12-2005, 06:58 AM
I am not sure if your case might be like mine, however if my experience can help that's fine.
Last year it happened the same to me. I was registered at the same address where a tenant left a huge unpaid Bt Bill and moved away. The first thing i did was writing to experian and equifax to do a notice of disassociation from that name registered at that address.
By doing this, i avoided the property to be blacklisted and affect my credit score too.
Sorry don't get that ! Why the landlord would want to give to the credit card company the ex-tenant's address, and why the tenant should ever dare to sue the landlord for his/her debts ?
When i did receive demand letters from Bt, all i did was writing on the envelope : Please "Return to sender" This person on't live here anymore, however i could only do it after three months, as it is known that a landlord can keep the tenants letters for at least three months, but also not sure about this.
08-12-2005, 08:28 AM
As far as I am concerned I would always give the ex-tenants address to companies he owed money to (provided he did not owe me anything - in which case I would wait until I had got my money out of him). If he does not redirect his mail and leaves a forwarding address then that is enough for me!
08-12-2005, 08:29 AM
In which case islandgirl my question is could you be sued? I am inclined to believe you couldnt as a private landlord, but you could as an agent.
08-12-2005, 12:57 PM
Hiya its me again after long time it is against the law and a big criminal offence to open other peoples mail or distibrute personal details of other people without their consent !!
I know this as I got this advice from my solicitor when I had my case when my landlord unlawfully evicted me and open my letters so the best thing to do is to write on the outside of the unopen letter that the person does not live here anymore and to return to sender and post it back it wont cost anything and wont get you in trouble hope this has helped thanks.
08-12-2005, 13:11 PM
Guys....sorry, some of you seem to be missing the point a little bit. Obviously, the landlord/agent should not be opening mail/distributing details. This goes without saying. My question is if they do so, what does this open them up to liability for? Namely...does it open them up to liability for the entire debt?
08-12-2005, 13:15 PM
You will not be liable for the debt as its not your debt its some elses my solictor says in our situation is that if the person finds out or know you have opened the letters etc they can take you to court an would be liable to prosecution.But say they dont know then your sfe you can divert the next lot of the persons letters buy writing return to sender person does not live here anymore.Hope this helps .
08-12-2005, 13:23 PM
But does their breach of the law(agents) not mean that they become responsible for the subsequent financial loss to the ex tenant, which would be the entire debt, as they would then have to pay it back? *EDIT* Actually just thought it probably wont, as presumably the court would view it as no financial loss at all, as the debt was prior owed by the tenant, and still is, just enforced. Would still welcome clarification however!
08-12-2005, 13:34 PM
The tennant would be responsible ill tell you from my situation when we were unlawfully evicted I didnt get a chance to contact my creditors due to the fact i was evicted .My solictor advise me that I should contact my creditiors and let them know of my change of address just like any normal person would do which made me bit behind on payments .I could have taken her to court for what she had done I was still living at the property ,if I had not contacted them it still wouldnt have made a difference but if the case does go to court the tenant would be liable for not contacting the creditors and so would you for opening the letters which is also an offence sound silly but hope I havent confused you.
08-12-2005, 20:59 PM
I have experience of this from the tenants side.
My son had big trouble with his ex LL, (ongoing and looking as if my son will have to sue) My son was coerced< I use the word advisedly, to leave his flat, LL wanted to re let for a higher rent.
LL has tried to use invalid guarantee document to get money from my husband. The document is useless to the LL, but letters persistently arrive from the LL using all sorts of threats demanding laughable and vast sums of money supposedly owed, (LL is in financial trouble and thought he had a milk cow in the guise of a guarantor)
So far, we have not given the LL my sons address, we are not at liberty to do so because my son has requested that we don't. This is his perogative and his address will only become known to the LL when and if my son decides to sue the LL in court.
We recently received a water bill delivered to OUR address, with my son as the addressee (my son does not live here, and has not done so for over 4 years now)
I rang the water company and they told me that the LL had notified them that the ex tenant was at our address, and that the ex tenant was liable for all utility bills up until the end of September 2005, my son moved out of the flat at the end of June 2005.
My son did not owe any money, he was paid up to the end of June 2005, but I had a job convincing the water company that he ceased to be a tenant after end of June, and that the LL had no right to forward any mail to my address, let alone for people who did not even live at the address, furthermore for money that was not owed.
Still not sure what angle the LL was pursuing, possibly just being vengeful because nothing is going the LL's way.
I mentioned data protection, and possible court action involving the LL and the wisdom of the water company sending red final notice bills to 3rd parties on the say so of a LL. I received an abject appology from the Water company, with an assurance that there would be no further mail.
Further to this, I have taken legal advice and if you are going to forward mail to anyone, without the express authority of the recipient, you had better be very very sure that the address you give is correct, and you had better be very very sure that the recipient is still at that address.
If the property is rented, and it is quite likely that by the time mail is sent on the tenant has himself moved on, you could be sending forward a whole bundle of trouble, possibly to an innocent 3rd party and it could come back and bite you on the backside.
It seems to me, get what you are owed as a LL best way you can, leave the rest to sort themselves out.
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