New guidelines forbid landlords from invading potential tenants' privacy

by Roxanne Libatique21 Aug 2019

The Privacy Commissioner has released new guidelines indicating what landlords and property managers can and cannot do – including invading potential tenants’ privacy, Newshub reports.

The new guidelines warned landlords and property managers not to conduct the controversial KFC test that allows them to look into a prospective tenant’s bank statements to check if they can pay their rent.

The KFC test issue was raised last year after New Zealand First MP Darroch Ball released an audio of a select committee oral submission.

Rachel Kann, Auckland-based property manager, revealed in the submission that she routinely asks for a potential tenant’s bank statement to find out if they can surely pay rent as the property owner needs the payment for mortgage.

“I don't just want to put a tenant into a property and no sooner have they been put in they can't afford the rent,” Kann said, as reported by Newshub.

“They're paying someone's mortgage. I see a lot of people who are low socio-economic and their bank statements literally will read, 'KFC, McDonalds, the dairy, court fine', goods they can't afford. I see a lot of mismanagement of money.”

Read more: Landlords must insulate now to avoid hefty fines – REINZ

Ball responded to the claims, emphasising that the KFC test is an invasion of a person’s privacy.

“It's very clear we have some morally-bereft landlords. The vulnerable, poor, young and desperate are being forced into forgoing their privacy in order to have the chance to secure a property,” he said.

The new guidelines allow landlords to ask for potential tenants’ names, contact details, reference contact details, proof of identity, whether they are 18 or over, expected length of tenancy, number of occupants, pet ownership details, and whether they are a smoker.

After choosing the preferred tenants, the landlords can request the tenants’ date of birth, credit report, necessary vehicle information, relevant criminal history, emergency contact person, and proof of income.

However, they cannot ask a tenant’s nationality, ethnicity, citizenship, gender and sexual orientation, physical or mental illness, marital status, employment history, proof of insurance or broad consent to collect information from “other resources.”

They also cannot ask a potential tenant for their current expenses or for details on their last rent.

Most Read

NZ Adviser TV