Inadequate training around “right and wrong” is the cause of tenant privacy issues arising in the property management industry, a compliance officer has said.
The comment comes in response to a growing number of tenants raising concerns over their privacy as landlords publicise properties through photography.
Barry Plant compliance officer Kerry Fraser said there is “definitely” an issue surrounding tenants’ privacy and tenants have every right to say "yes, no or otherwise".
“The trouble is there is not enough training provided,” he told Real Estate Business.
“Unless property managers work for large franchisees that have their own training facilities or they attend the institutess training, they are not going to find out about the right and wrong.”
Mr Fraser said, years ago these privacy issues were not a worry because life was such that Australian’s took things nowhere near as seriously as they do today.
“People are becoming much more sensitive, including tenants,” he said.
“Something that we have always stressed is tenants do have rights and they have got to be recognised and respected.”
Also speaking to Residential Property Manager, Paddington Realty director Rob Mandanici said “common sense” should always prevail.
“At the end of the day, as much as they don’t own the house, they own the rights to reside in that house,” he said.
“If you have got a tenant who for some reason is so aggrieved that they felt the only option was to go to VCAT, or through small claims tribunals and things like that, you just have to wonder if that agent has done the right thing by his or her client.”
Mr Mandanici said without the phone ringing with tenants, property managers would not have a rent roll.
“You can have all the listings in the world, but without tenants wanting to ring or email your company you have got nothing,” he said.
Peter Blackshaw property manager Thomas Hathaway contacted The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), who regulates the Privacy Act, seeking clarification in relation to taking photos at inspections.
In response, the OAIC said “personal information is defined in the act as being information or an opinion about an individual, whose identity is apparent or can be reasonably ascertained, from the information or opinion”.
“This means that a photo of personal property or belongings, which does not include an image of an individual specifically, would not generally meet the definition of personal information in the act. Therefore, the organisations' handling of those records would not be covered by the Privacy Act.”