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The Office of the Privacy Commissioner begins Mystery Shopping!

By Katrina Green

The Office of the Privacy Commissioner (OPC) has now begun the process of using mystery shoppers in the private rental sector to monitor property managers and their activities. The process began in March 2022, and the OPC are now checking on how property management organisations are operating within the private sector. Effectively, using mystery shoppers, the OPC is checking whether property managers are asking for the right information, at the right time, in line with the privacy principles defined in the Privacy Act 2020.

While the report I have read talks specifically on their audit on property management companies, it seems likely that they will also be calling private landlords who are advertising their own properties as well.

The OPC has the right – if landlords or property managers are found to be in breach of the Privacy Act – to issue warning letters, access directions, compliance notices, referral to the Human Rights Review Tribunal, publicly naming a company, or making a complaint to the Privacy Commissioner.

Do you know and understand what you can and cannot ask a potential tenant and at what stage you can ask them?   Did you know you are no longer authorised to request all the information at once, it is instead a process with several steps involved?

If you don’t it is certainly worth doing the research as the penalty for failure to comply with a Compliance Notice is a fine up to $10,000.

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