Tenancy databases are a risk management tool for property managers and owners, designed to screen the tenancy history of prospective tenants.
These databases also list defaulting tenants once a tenancy has ended and under certain conditions.
The Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008* notes what, when and why people can be listed on a tenancy database, making it simple to avoid recording unfair, unjust or inaccurate tenant listings.
Queensland’s Residential Tenancies Authority (RTA) recommends all parties are aware of the penalty provisions set out in the Act that relate to the use of tenancy databases to protect themselves and the privacy of tenants.
When screening prospective tenants during the application process using tenancy databases, property managers/owners must:
- Advise prospective tenants what database/s are used in the application process
- Advise tenants (in writing) if a listing of them has been found, and
- Advise how a listed tenant can obtain information about the listing.
A tenant can be listed on a database if:
- The tenant was a named tenant on the tenancy agreement
- The agreement has ended and there is an approved reason for listing the tenant (see below)
- All reasonable steps have been taken to advise the tenant of the proposed listing (timeframes apply).
A tenant can be listed on a database for the following reasons:
- Unpaid rent, where a breach notice has been issued and the unpaid rent is greater than the bond amount
- Owing money greater than the bond amount under a conciliation agreement or Tribunal order and the time to pay the money under the order has passed
- Owing money greater than the bond amount after the abandonment of the property (and there is no current objection by the tenant)
- Objectionable behaviour (if a Tribunal order has been made for termination of the agreement)
- Repeated breaches (if a Tribunal order has been made for termination of the agreement).
Note that specific criteria apply for listing a tenant for reasons mentioned above. Consult the Act^ and Regulations** for further details.
Privacy laws may also come into play when tenancy databases are used to record tenants’ personal information. More information is available on the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner website^^.