Nobody who uses the internet and email to any significant extent will not have heard of the General Data Protection Regulation - or GDPR - which has been drawn up to regulate how personal data is stored and used. After all, personal email accounts will have been filled with messages from organisations seeking the consent of those they email to go on doing so.
It is important for landlords and agencies to be aware of GDPR, which is an EU regulation but will apply in the UK from May 25th despite the approach of Brexit, as it is supported by the government.
The National Landlords' Association (NLA) has welcomed the development, advising its members that GDPR is "a hugely positive step for data protection, both for you as a citizen, and as a landlord".
It added that, at the same time, tenants will also get more control over their data as well.
Explaining why this matters, the NLA stated: "As a landlord you handle your tenants’ data. By law, this classifies you as a data controller, and as such you have a responsibility to handle your tenants’ personal information in an appropriate and lawful manner and are obliged to comply with GDPR."
Among the ways this will change the usage, dissemination and reproduction of data will be in the use of documents like tenants' forms, which can no longer be filled in electronically and then stored by the NLA, due to the personal data on tenants they contain. Instead, they will have to be downloaded, printed off and filled in manually.
The NLA has provided its members with much information about GDPR and so too has the Residential Landlords' Association. The latter organisation has published a list of frequently asked questions, such as whether an agent who only has the name and number of the tenant should still have to register these with the Information Commissioner's Office (the answer is yes).
With new and existing tenants also needing to be given privacy notices under the new rules, it is clearly very important for landlords and agents to check that they are doing all the right things.
That may take a little getting used to, but if the NLA is right that everyone will benefit, then the effort will have been worth it.