Can my landlord take photos of my home
Photo: iStock/diego_cervo.

Rental inspections are an expected process when you rent a property in Australia. But are landlords allowed to photograph the contents of your home – and if so, what?

During a routine rental inspection, it’s common for real estate agents to take photos of the rental property. This serves two purposes:

  • As photographic evidence for the property owner
    Photos can be included in the Property Condition Report to show the condition of the rental to the lessor. They may also be used to document repairs and maintenance needed, obtain quotes, or issue a Breach Notice.
  • For marketing purposes to advertise the property to buyers
    Far less common, but the specifics regarding when photographs may be taken for marketing purposes should be outlined in your tenancy agreement.

Protecting your rights

Agents typically refrain from photographing your personal belongings to safeguard your privacy during inspections.

As we’ve covered in previous articles, routine inspections are primarily intended to ensure that the property is properly maintained rather than to assess the tidiness of the living space. Additionally, these inspections allow landlords to be made aware of any issues requiring attention, such as worn carpets or damaged blinds.

While there are no hard and fast rules governing whether property managers are allowed to take photographs of the property, it is generally subject to negotiation between you and your PM.

It’s worth noting that most real estate agents must comply with the Australian Privacy Principles when handling images that contain personal information, as outlined in the Privacy Act 1998.

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It’s important to maintain open lines of communication with your property manager.

For tenants, privacy concerns extend beyond just their personal space. Photos taken for advertising can provide valuable information to potential burglars, and sharing interior photos can put your safety at risk. This is especially concerning if these photos contain images of your family.

If your lease agreement doesn’t specifically mention the use of photographs, it’s a good idea to discuss your expectations with your property manager before any inspections. Let them know that you understand the need for them to see the property’s condition, but you want to ensure that any photos taken are used for that purpose only.

Most property managers will agree to let you remove personal items, such as family photos, before taking photos of a specific area. Removing sensitive items from view before an inspection is always a good idea.

Make sure that any communication you have with your property manager regarding your lease is done in writing or at least followed up in writing. This will provide you with a record of your attempts to address any concerns or issues that may arise.

I’m concerned about my privacy. What can I do?

If you have concerns about your privacy, there are steps you can take if you notice your property manager taking photos of your belongings during an inspection:

  • make sure that any personal items are safely put away before their visit
  • review the tenancy laws in your state or territory to determine when your property manager is allowed to take photos
  • contact the tenancy body in your area

Remember that you have the right to privacy, comfort, and peace in your home.

Even if you can’t object to the photos being taken, it’s best to agree with your property manager that they won’t take pictures of any sensitive information.

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24 COMMENTS

  1. I have been renting this property for five years. I live on my own, and I keep the property in pristine condition. Despite the estate agent being well aware of this and commenting on how well the property is maintained, I have had to endure 20, yes 20 inspections (every three months) in five years. The property manager takes dozens of photographs at every inspection, perhaps as many as 50. I find this a severe invasion of privacy. Conducting inspections every 3mths is bad enough, but the photos every time must border on harassment.

  2. I would like to know who gets to see these photos, where they are stored, how long they are kept and question their overall necessity, if not recording actual maintenance. I find it incredibly INTRUSIVE and CREEPY to take photos of our bedrooms, particularly my teenage daughters, every four months. It goes beyond pictures of possible maintenance issues (in our case, there have been no issues). The real estate takes multiple photos of every room at every inspection. We have a clean and tidy house, have never damaged anything and are excellent tenants. This breaches my privacy and comfort living on the property, though, according to laws, it is entirely legal. Where else in the world are tenants treated like this? As to what can be done, I don’t know. Unless every tenant collectively refuses to pay their rent, I don’t see anything changing as the major political parties are investors, and so are many of the people who vote for them.

  3. I have the same issues,i have 60 odd photos taken every 3 months,the inspection takes over 2 hours for a 3 bed home in imaculate condition when im not home,my neighbor takes a note for me,on top of this my rent has just increased to 100 extra a week this is just straight Greed

  4. Omg, Lyn, I agree. We have been in this house for three years, starting on 12 March. There weren’t many pics at the start, but now when there’s an inspection, lots. I have a full house. I have a hubby, four kids and two granddaughters. It’s a big house, and we take care of it. It’s an old house that the owners/real estate won’t fix. They say you do it, and we’ll pay you back. We haven’t done it because they’re unreliable. We always pay our rent and water, yet my rent has gone up almost $40 from the last lease, and the house is falling apart. No joke. It’s not good. I have a lot of pictures up, and I feel violated. Where does it all go? It stays on their phone, and they can look at them whenever. Sorry but this got to stop; it’s an invasion of privacy.

  5. Has the world gone mad? This is Australia – the lucky country. Where else in the world could you live with safety and security and support of the government that we all receive?

    Any who – have a good day and appreciate a roof over your head.

  6. The guy that comes to do an inspection is the boyfriend of the estate agent (he calls himself his partner), but he takes the same photos every 3 to 5 months, and I have a lot of expensive artifacts and paintings. I checked, and they cannot take pictures of personal effects. I have printed out the section on this great website as my backup for when he comes again. The agent is too lazy to drive the 45 minutes to do the inspection, but he has a surprise next time he comes as I will video HIM. He says he’s a builder, so he has already admitted he is not a licensed RESI person, but I am awaiting confirmation to see if I can legally turn him away. He also has a habit of gossiping to the other two tenants about our conversation, but now it is just Hello, yes, no and goodbye. I will keep you posted on the unlicensed bit. Regards, Daiki san.

  7. I’ve been told I need to make this house clean every time an inspection is on, which is a few times a week. I cannot afford to clean this house on top of working two jobs paying bills and cleaning products, electricity bills water bills so the owner can sell this property. I am too exhausted after work. Do I have to do this? Can’t I just do the vacuuming and Bessie cleaning and remove clutter? Any answers, please.

  8. We, as tenants, have the right to live in our rented homes without harassment on 100% cleanliness. There’s a term used, within reasonable condition, for viewings when your home is up for sale. My home is for sale, has been for two months. I’ve contacted tenancy rights; no more than two viewings in a given week. If you had a viewing Monday of a given week, only one more viewing before Monday of the following week. Real estate agents must provide a tenant 48hrs notice, and this notice can be declined by a tenant when 48hrs isn’t given. Things like sickness, covid19 positive cases reasons, agents have to comply with the tenant’s rights and health laws. Especially people with medical/disability/mental health issues that require in-home help careers would put the tenant in duress circumstances. Most real estate agents like to book viewings on weekends, but a Sunday is generally not advisable. Tenants have the right to negotiate weekends due to their commitments and not let agents monopolise their only day off work. A tenant can provide an alternative date and agreed-upon time to reschedule this app. Please remember, if you have to be firm, don’t ever say, I’m refusing you entry. If you are uncertain, please say, “There may be an issue with the day you want; however, I’m happy to reschedule for another day.” Most importantly, if you are genuinely concerned about phone calls and messages not being appropriately relayed, put it in an email. I’ve endured a nasty PM saying I’d refused her entry. I didn’t. However, the receptionist didn’t relay my message correctly, and I had to make a complaint to the proprietor of the agency. Does everyone know that in January 2020, Scott Morrison said there’d be no rent increases for two years? So from January 2020 – January 2022, if you had a rent increase, it was obtained illegally by your agent. You have the right to take this very matter to the rental tribunal because the money was obtained by deception. When our Prime Minister mandates these bylaws, real estate/landlords must abide by them. With this being put out there, I don’t want to cause anyone grief. I would like people to be aware of their rights as tenants since covid has become a worldwide pandemic. When we have a worldwide catastrophe, it puts people’s backs up when we are being ripped off. So many people are selling their homes and buying caravans, and organising to work from their mobile dwellings. I know people living in tents because rentals are too damn expensive to live in. Move out west; we need doctors and mental health specialists in our country towns. I live in a coal mining town, and it needs more residents for business and economic recovery.

  9. Actually, I just read with some surprise that they have to pay you for inspections that are to sell the house. This is in Vic. Not sure where you are. They have to pay half a day’s rent or a minimum of $30, whichever is the greater for each time. On the Consumers Vic website, I had never heard this before.

  10. I don’t understand why the laws aren’t changed to protect renters’ rights. After all, we are paying off people’s houses for them so they can get richer. We get treated like felons who need to have their cell checked whenever they please photograph whatever they want to tell what you can and can’t do in the property you pay for. Some ignoramus will say to be grateful you have a roof like you don’t deserve any standard or privacy because you’re a renter.

  11. It is a shocking invasion of privacy. I was appalled to see the comments. One short inspection at three months and no photos. I did my own inspection and did not expect tidiness, only a fairly clean place. I think too many agents overstep the mark, and tenants have no rights. There needs to be fairness and balance. Management fees are a tax deduction, so they charge a lot for little.

  12. I have a question that someone may have an answer for. When a person comes and does an inspection, they are likely to take photos. This is supposedly to show any maintenance issues or issues per se. In our case, they go ‘happy snapping’ everything, and we have some expensive stuff. My question is, once the owner has seen the photos, should they not then be deleted, as they serve no other purpose?

  13. Hi, I am about to move from our rental property, and I have a big issue with photos being taken of our house. We have never been provided with a copy of these photos to ensure that nothing private has been photographed. I have no idea who has access to the photos, and I do not know what happens to them after we move. I am a survivor of stalking and sexual assault and live with C-PTSD. The people who own this place lived here for some time before we moved in, were close to their neighbours and still live close by. Gossip is alive and well, whether you live in suburbia or not.

    How many photos of the house do the owners need? Why are we not given the photos first to ensure that we do not object to something private being shown and then have the right to veto a photo that is intrusive? With no oversight, how do we know that property managers are not taking inappropriate photos? How do we know the owners don’t take copies and share them with the neighbours? The last question may sound paranoid, but it may be highly unlikely. But the thing is, I don’t think we should have to even think about that, let alone worry about it.

    What value do the photographs have, and with zero oversight, how do we know that property managers – who can be young in age and new to real estate – are mature enough to handle our privacy with care? Am I informed if the property manager loses their mobile phone or has it stolen? The phone metadata will still show photos of my possessions. How has this been allowed? When? I returned to the rental market about 2 years ago after years in my own home. I am shocked by the invasion of privacy there is now, relative to when I lived for a decade in rental properties. This is part of a theme of mass surveillance, and I don’t know why there has not been an outcry about it. How is this safe? Who has accountability? How is that measured? How am I kept informed about it? Who has the onus to provide that information? Now that I am leaving, am I provided with copies of all the photos? What proof is provided that the photos have all been destroyed after I am no longer a tenant?

  14. I recently had an inspection at the property where I have been living for four years. An email was sent regarding inspection time, which I did not see. The new property manager let himself in whilst I was at work, and hubby and four kids were sleeping. Three were COVID-positive and sick.
    My husband woke up to a guy standing in the living area. When asked what he was doing, he replied, ‘inspection.’ My hubby texted me to ask if I knew. No, I didn’t yet. I spoke to the property manager the day before.
    When he asked why he didn’t mention it to my wife when you spoke, he said he didn’t need to, just via email.
    Then he proceeded to take photos of rooms whilst the kids were sleeping. 😡 He’s lucky hubby didn’t knock him out!
    This was the new property manager’s first interaction with him, and it’s not sitting right with me but not sure what I could do.

  15. I’m also really over all of the invasive photos being taken on inspection days. It’s fair enough if there is damage or a maintenance issue, but when the same photos are taken every three months, it’s an invasion of privacy. I asked the lady PM why she was taking photos of my possessions, and her answer was that she has to take photos of each room. Really? Why does the real estate and property owner need photos of people’s possessions? I take pictures off the walls and turn them around, covering up what I can. It’s really none of their business.

  16. It’s pretty clear that all tenants are feeling the same in relation to this issue. An invasion of privacy is an understatement, and there is absolutely no justifiable reason why these photos of tenants’ private spaces are being taken. The places are being visually inspected; the storage of photographic data is infringing on tenant privacy to the extreme and is completely unnecessary. To have it written into the agreement that tenants are legally entitled to private use of the premises and then to be allowed to violate that privacy by taking images that are held and used by the landlords/agents is appalling. Frankly, I’d like to see a tenancy class action against the estate agents for breaching privacy. As someone else pointed out, politicians aren’t doing anything about it — they’re almost all landlords, aren’t they? I wonder what would happen if we all rocked up to our landlords’ and estate agents’ homes, knocked on the door or let ourselves in, and then proceeded to take photographs in their bedrooms, living rooms, and bathrooms, with the excuse that we wanted to know where our money was going as conscious consumers! So much for the right to private use of a premise that you are paying for — what a joke. Don’t even get me started on three-monthly inspections. We’ve been on 12-monthly inspections through all our estate agents for the past 30 years because we are impeccable tenants, but not now because we’ve been told there is high competition between estate agents to secure landlords, and it has to look like they are earning their money. So much for getting rewarded for good behavior — no thank you, or being given the benefit of the doubt that the house is just as good as it was three months ago, just a reminder of where you belong in society’s pecking order instead. The scales are way out of balance in the tenant/landlord world, but of course, it’s not like a tenant can just refuse to go along with it by not buying into it; a roof over one’s head is a necessity like eating, isn’t it?

  17. I moved from Victoria to WA, and every three months they do inspections. Not every six months, that’s fine and good, BUT they take photos of every room, and I want to know why. How are they allowed when it’s supposed to be just the chattels, i.e., light fittings, fans overhead, but they stand back and take the whole room? Why??? I store things in my spare rooms and have been told it’s a ‘fire hazard’ because who sees it? It’s not; it’s just boxes of possessions I’m needing to sort through. And with a back disability, it’s slow going, but every room they stand back and take full pics, why??? My chattels are on the ceiling and not in the whole room! I feel like I’m being judged on how I live, and after being told via email post-last inspection, I’m pretty peeved, tbh.

    The grout in tiles is not sealed, so I’m to buy an expensive cleaner to clean the grout every 3 months. I’m supposed to clean the windows outside and inside every three months. I’m supposed to wash all walls every three months as well. It’s absolute BS that I have to complete the checklist for inspection days. The dog poop and clean floors, etc. Sure, it’s normal weekly cleaning, but windows and walls are a once-a-year thing. And I refuse to do them, so they take photos of walls every time! Then I get an email saying the marks need to be cleaned off. If the paint painted on walls was good quality, it would wipe off, but the paint is cheap, and you walk past and brush the wall, and it marks, and nothing gets it off, no miracle sponges, no bicarb paste, no vinegar, dishwashing liquid with hot water. NOTHING works, not even sugar soap!

    I’m so over this overbearing agency every three months; I almost am anxiety-ridden! With a permanent back disability, they tell you to get a cleaner in – who pays for that???? I can’t get a cleaner to clean the carpet in the bedroom. It has mould, and nobody will clean it as they say it needs to be pulled up, washed, dried, and relaid, which they won’t do. They tell me just to get it done! They won’t give me a cleaner for the carpet nor a gardener referral, so it’s a no-win situation. I feel renters have no rights, and it’s awful to feel like this. What can we do, though, these days? Nothing but do what they tell us to do and sit back while the tiles keep breaking, walls keep peeling paint, the carpet keeps moulding, and the towel rail is almost pulled out of the wall… and it’s only six years old the house! Welcome to WA!

  18. Not only do these property managers take photos, but they are now also conducting video calls with the owners, walking around the house, and showing them the state of the property and yard. I even had one property manager turn up without notice during a routine inspection that another property manager was conducting, and he decided to video call the owner because the owner wanted a video walk-through at the last minute. When we questioned it, his reply was that the owner had the right to ask for it. So, essentially, we tenants were told to like it or lump it. Additionally, they took about 60 photos, which took around half an hour to complete. I felt as if I was given no respect, no privacy, and was treated like an afterthought by the property managers because it was all about what they and the owner wanted. I too keep a pristine home, and these inspections every three months are making me anxious, fed up, and angry.

  19. I have lived in the same house for 20 years. My landlords are the best. However, I am not very clear why my agent does the inspection of the house I rent every three months, as I always pay my rent on time. I think once every six months would be more normal. I thank my landlords again for being wonderful to me.

  20. I recently sold my house and moved into a rental property. Unbeknownst to me, the owners had planned all along to sell the rental property just three months after I moved in. They stitched me up big time, so now I am forced to participate in the sale of the property. This includes the valuation, taking photos of all my possessions, and hosting open inspections every weekend. Needless to say, it has caused me immense stress, pressure, and depression.

    The owners state that they are poor and wouldn’t make any repairs until I sent them notices and breach notices. However, they drive around in a Mercedes Benz, live in a big home, and own two other rental properties. The wife also has a job where she earns over 150K a year. Despite all this, they claim to be poor and unable to fix anything according to the real estate agency. It’s a disgrace.

    Anyway, I have given notice to leave, and I will be sending letters to the appropriate place to report them all. The disturbances have been horrendous, and it has been the most stressful time for me. I came to this home to rest and recover after living next to the worst neighbours for seven years, which is why I sold my home. The fact that the people who bought my home are now on their sixth owner proves how bad the previous neighbours were. But as soon as I got here and settled, I am now forced to sell this house, and they got free furniture styling using my nice furniture. It has made me so mad, hurt, and upset. I will be glad to be out of here soon.

  21. The owner of the premises where I live recently changed real estate agents. During the first inspection, I noticed that an excessive amount of photos were being taken, but I didn’t give it too much attention.

    The next day, a tenant from the granny flat behind me informed me that he had received an email from the real estate agent with the inspection report of my premises and all the photos that the agent took.

    There were 104 photos. My personal stuff, my bookcases, my furniture, my photos. Even the inside of the f*cking toilet bowl. I am beyond disgusted. I have lived in this house for over 15 years and never had any issues UNTIL NOW.

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