Access to Information – I’m being told by the local authority and by utilities suppliers that the Data Protection Act prevents them supplying me with any information about my tenants. Are they right or is this just an excuse?
Since the inception of the Data Protection Act in 1998 a common refrain from many of those in authority is that “Sorry, we cannot supply you with information because of the DPA”. Rather like the other excuse, that “Sorry, our computers are down today”, it is often a convenient and convincing reason for not taking the trouble to be helpful.
Very often there are good reasons why confidential information cannot be supplied. Banks and Building Societies, utilities suppliers and local authorities will not supply details about your tenant’s accounts, addresses, payments and personal circumstances, certainly not without their written consent.
However, there are exceptions to this. When your request for information without the consent of the subject is in relation to a legal claim, or a potential legal claim, then it should be possible to obtain it.
Section 35 of the Data Protection Act 1998 states: Personal data are exempt from the non-disclosure provisions where the disclosure is necessary (a) for the purpose of, or in connection with, any legal proceedings (including prospective legal proceedings), or (b) for the purpose of obtaining legal advice, or is otherwise necessary for the purposes of establishing, exercising or defending legal rights.
In practice you or your solicitor needs to write with evidence that the information is required for legal purposes.
©LandlordZONE All Rights Reserved – never rely totally on these standard answers which apply primarily to England and Wales. Before taking action or not, always do your own research and/or seek professional advice with the full facts of the case and all documents to hand.