The City of Marion in south Adelaide acted after learning that agents were spending long periods of time on a communal computer to extract sensitive information, according to the mayor, Kris Hanna.
“The public computer has been available for about eight years and council has recently been made aware of the issue of some agents using it to access ratepayers’ contact details,” he told REB.
“We are aware that some real estate agents have used the computer in the foyer of council’s administration centre to access names and addresses of home owners. Some agents have then contacted home owners trying to convince them to sell their properties.”
Mr Hanna said the council regards this as an invasion of residents’ privacy.
“The main aim of the ratepayer roll is to enable neighbours to contact each other via mail about matters such as developments, fencing or trees,” he said.
“Council does not approve of the roll being used for commercial purposes.”
Elected members raised the matter at a general council meeting last month and have introduced measures to “help protect the community”, according to Mr Hanna.
Two new rules have been introduced: computer use is now limited to 10-minute sessions and a $10.50 charge has been placed on the copying of records.
Signs have also been placed next to the computer to advise agents and other residents that ratepayer information is not be used for commercial purposes.
“We are heartened that the Real Estate Institute of South Australia has offered to work with Marion Council to overcome this issue and protect our ratepayers,” Mr Hanna said.