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Good news for landlords – no more confusion over what questions you can ask tenants

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We’re all tired of coming across news stories in which landlords and tenants are said to be butting heads, so it’s great news that the government has released guidelines to simplify part of the tenant selection process.

In the past, we’ve had nightmarish reactions to the so-called “KFC test” for tenants, which threw up all sorts of complicated questions about exactly what property owners can ask the people we trust to live in our properties in between Mangawhai, Whangarei and the Bay. At Rental Experts, our property managers take these questions very seriously as we do our utmost to follow rules and give property owners a hassle-free experience.

Good news, then, that the Privacy Commissioner has released a helpful guide to legally sound questions landlords may ask prospective tenants. This ensures well-intentioned Northland landlords and property owners don’t ask for anything unfair, and tenants don’t use any poorly-phrased questions as leverage.

Entitled ‘Finding the right tenant – What information can I ask for?’, the guidelines have a simple Go, Slow and Stop motif (Green light, orange light and red) clarifying

  • What you can ask for when someone applies for a tenancy
  • What you can collect after you’ve chosen the preferred applicants
  • What information should not be collected.

Here’s all you need to know

What a landlord may ask for when someone applies for a tenancy

Name and contact information
Proof of identity
Whether the individual is 18 years of age or older
Expected length of tenancy
Contact details for landlord and non-landlord references
Consent for a criminal record check (for a preferred tenant)
Consent for a credit report (for a preferred tenant)
Number of occupants to live in the property
Pet ownership

What a landlord may ask for when someone applies for a tenancy

Credit report
Relevant criminal record check
Date of birth (to carry out a credit check)
Contact details of an emergency contact person
Vehicle information (if necessary to provide for parking on the property).
Proof of income.

What landlords should not collect

Physical or mental disability or illness, nationality, ethnicity, origin or citizenship
Personal beliefs or opinions
Marital and family status
Gender and sexual orientation
Rent paid previously
Current expenses
Proof of insurance
Employment history
Broad consent to collect information from “other sources”.

The Privacy Act Guidance for Landlords and Tenants also offers brand new Frequently Asked Questions and answers at this website

For any information still not provided, please talk to the team on 09 459 7139 or drop into 9-11 Reyburn Street in Whangarei.

If you would still like guidance on what questions you can quiz tenants on, do check out the Privacy Act Guidance for Landlords and Tenants, which addresses much of the following:

  • Can an agency collect information about my finances?
  • Can a landlord look up a potential tenant on the internet?
  • Are photos of a tenant’s room their personal information?
  • Can a landlord ask for information about flatmates even though they are not on the tenancy agreement?
  • Are there any rules about where CCTV can be used?
The website clarifies landlord storage of tenants’ information, how long information can be stored for and much much more.
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Please feel free to contact us if you need rental property management advice.