Tenancy database laws in Queensland
Disclosure to tenant requirements
The following information is an extract from Chapter 5 and 22 of the Property Management Excellence PME manual
5.1a Requirements under the RTRA Act – tenancy database disclosure
It is a requirement under the RTRA Act that tenants be advised prior to application what tenancy database companies the agencies uses, the reason they use databases and how the tenant can contact the database operator.
A best practice form can be found at member online folder 05 Applications and processing and folder 22 tenancy databases.
Information from the RTA
What do property managers/owners have to tell prospective tenants when they are applying for a rental property?
458A Notice of usual use of database
From 1 July 2016, all property managers/owners must inform prospective tenants in writing:
- The name of any tenancy database companies the manager/owner usually uses
- the reason they use tenancy databases is to check a person’s rental history
- How to contact the database operator
This form can be found at member online folder 05 Applications and processing and folder 22 tenancy databases.
Information about your application and tenancy databases
Tenancy databases are used to protect a property owner’s investment. However, unfair and old listings can disadvantage some people when they try to secure private rental housing.
What this means for you
As a property manager/owner, we are required by law to let you know which databases we use to check your rental history.
At (XYZ REAL ESTATE) we use the following tenancy databases:
What if I am listed?
If you are listed on a tenancy database that we use, we are required by law to let you know that you are listed, and provide you with the contact details of the database operator so you can find out information about your listing.
Where can I get further information?
If you would like more information about tenancy database laws you can visit the Residential Tenancies Authority website at rta.qld.gov.au or call 1300 366 311.
5.1b Disclosure to tenant requirements if listed on a tenancy database
It is a requirement under the RTRA Act that agencies provide written disclosure to tenants if upon processing their tenancy application if it is found that they are listed on a tenancy default database. An example best practice form is below. A best practice form can be found at member online folder 05 application forms and processing and folder 22 tenancy databases. The agency has 7 days from being aware that a prospective tenant is listed on a database to inform them in writing that they are listed.
Information from the RTA.
What happens if a listing is found on a tenancy database?
458B Notice of listing
From 1 July, 2016, if the property manager/owner finds a listing about a prospective tenant, they must inform the tenant in writing and within seven days:
- That there is a listing about the person
- Details of who made the listing (if contained in the database)
- The name of the tenancy database
- How the prospective tenant can contact the database operator to get information about any listing (20 penalty units).
- How the person can get a copy of the listing
- How they can have the listing removed or amended (20 penalty units).
Example form can be found at member online folder 05 application forms and processing and folder 22 tenancy databases.
Notice of tenancy database listing
(To be given to prospective tenants by the property manager / owner to comply with SS 458B, 459C of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008).
You were previously advised that when (XYZ Real Estate) reviews a prospective tenant application for a property, we check the applicant’s rental history by using the following tenancy databases:
Our search has found that your personal information is recorded in a tenancy database.
Who listed me on the database?
☐ The information on the database was listed by (xyz real estate/property manager/owner) on (date of listing).
☐ There are no details contained in the tenancy database about the person who listed you.
What can I do now?
You can obtain a copy of the listing by contacting (XYZ database service) at (contact details)
- Please note that you must put your request in writing. The database operator is required by law to give you the information within 14 days after the written request is made. The database operator is able to charge you a reasonable fee for providing the information to you.
- You can also obtain a copy of the personal information recorded on the database from the person who originally listed you, being (listing officer’s name) at(contact details)
Please note that you must put your request in writing. The lessor or lessor’s agent who listed the personal information is required by law to give you the information within 14 days after the written request is made. The lessor or lessor’s agent is able to charge you a reasonable fee for providing the information to you.
How can I have the listing removed or amended?
If you disagree with the information listed about your rental history and would like the information amended or removed you can talk to the listing person and try to reach an agreement. If that fails, you can:
- Lodge a Dispute resolution request (Form 16) with the Residential Tenancies Authority who can assist in attempting to negotiate an agreement about a listing, or
- Apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an order stating that a person must have the tenant’s name or other personal information removed or make changes as appropriate.
Please note that an application about a listing that contravenes section 459 of the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act 2008, must be lodged with the Tribunal within six months of the tenant becoming aware of the alleged breach.
Where can I get further information?
If you would like more information about tenancy database laws you can visit the Residential Tenancies Authority’s website at rta.qld.gov.au or call 1300 366 311.
22.1 Reasons to list a tenant a defaulting database
What are the approved reasons a tenant can be listed on a tenancy database for?
A tenant named on the tenancy agreement can only be listed after the tenancy has ended in one of the following circumstances:
Tenants may be listed where the agreement has ended and the amount owing exceeds the rental bond, and:
- The money owed under a conciliation agreement or Tribunal order is not paid on time, or
- They have been served with a Notice to remedy breach (Form 11) for rent arrears and have failed to remedy the breach, or
- After abandonment of the property, unless the dispute is currently subject to a Tribunal determination.
If no rental bond has been charged, a person cannot be listed unless the amount owed is more than the equivalent of one week’s rent, plus any amount of tenancy guarantee.
A tenant can be listed for objectionable behaviour where the Tribunal has terminated the tenancy agreement for that reason.
A tenant can be listed for repeated breaches where the Tribunal has terminated the tenancy agreement for that reason.
22.2 What must occur prior to a tenant being listed on a defaulting database
What rules do you have to follow before a person can be listed?
S459 Restriction on listing
A person can only be listed on a tenancy database if they are:
- Named as a tenant on the tenancy agreement
- Only when the tenancy agreement has ended
- For approved reasons: see What are the approved reasons for tenancy database listings?
The property manager/owner must:
- Give the tenant a copy of the proposed listing, or make reasonable attempts to inform them of the proposed listing
- Allow the person/s you are listing 14 days to review the personal information and make a submission objecting to its entry into the database (unless it is publicly available court or tribunal records; or is amending inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date listings)
- Consider any objections the person has about the proposed listing, such as its accuracy, completeness or clarity (20 penalty units).
The property manager/owner must not:
- Charge a fee for giving the proposed listing to the tenant
- List information that they know is inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date (20 penalty units).
A best practice letter for this procedure can be downloaded from member online folder 22.
22.3 Requirements to give tenants copies of database listings
Property managers/owners who have listed tenants must give the tenant a copy of the listing within 14 days of being asked in writing for a copy by the tenant (20 penalty units). A reasonable fee may be charged for giving the information.
Database operators must give the tenant a copy of the listing within 14 days of being asked in writing for a copy by the tenant (20 penalty units). A reasonable fee may be charged for giving the information.
Any fees charged must not be excessive and must not be for lodging a request for accessing the information.
22.3a Requirements about quality of listings
What are the requirements around the quality of listings?
459A Ensuring quality of listing – lessors and lessor’s agents
Tenants can challenge listings on the basis they are:
- Inaccurate, where the information indicates the person owes an amount but the person no longer owes the amount and had paid it more than three months after it became payable.
- Ambiguous, or
- Out of date, where the information indicates the person owes an amount, but the person no longer owes the amount and had paid it within three months after it became payable, or was made on the basis of a tribunal order which has subsequently been reopened or appealed, or set aside.
Tenants should contact the person who made the listing, and ask them to amend inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous listings, or to remove out of date listings. The listing person must amend or remove the listing within seven days of being advised. Database operators must amend or remove the listing within 14 days of being advised of inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date listings. There are penalties for not doing this.
If necessary, the tenant can apply to QCAT for an order to have the listing amended or removed.
22.3b What happens if the circumstances about the listing change?
What happens if the circumstances around the listing change?
If the property manager/owner becomes aware that the details of the listing are inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date, they must within seven days:
- Inform the database operator in writing of how the information must be amended so it is no longer inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous, and
- Inform the database operator in writing of listings that must be removed because they are out of date.
- Keep a copy of the notice they give the database operator for one year (20 penalty units).
This is not necessary if they amend or remove the information in the database themselves within seven days of becoming aware the details of the listing are inaccurate, incomplete, ambiguous or out of date.
22.3c What database operators have to do
By 1 January 2017, database operators must have removed all listings which are, at that stage, three years or older.
From 1 July 2016, database operators must:
If a property manager/owner advises a database operator that a listing is inaccurate, incomplete or ambiguous (but not out of date), the database operator must amend the information within 14 days of being given the notice (40 penalty units).
If the database operator is advised by a property manager/owner that the listing is out of date, the database operator must remove the information within 14 days of being given the notice (40 penalty units).
459C Providing copy of personal information listed
- Provide a copy of the personal information listed on their database within 14 days of a written request (where a fee has been asked for and been paid)
- If a fee has been charged by the property manager/owner it must not be excessive and must not be for simply applying to lodge a request for the information
459D Keeping personal information listed
- Database operators must not keep listings for longer than three years (40 penalty units).
- IMPORTANT: By 1 January 2017, database operators must have removed all listings which are, at that stage, three years or older.
22.3d Victims of domestic or family violence protections
Are there any additional protections for victims of domestic and family violence?
Victims of domestic and family violence can apply to QCAT for an order not to be listed on a tenancy database, or to have a listing removed, due to any breach of the tenancy agreement arising from an act of domestic or family violence.
This does not prevent the perpetrator of domestic and family violence from being listed on a tenancy database if other listing criteria has been met.
22.4 Record keeping for listing of tenants
Property managers must retain either a manual of listed tenant details or an electronic folder of the reasons and evidence for listing a tenant on a default database.
Records should be kept under the tenant’s last name; if more than one tenant, double records are required to be kept.
For example, if two named tenants on an agreement have defaulted with the last name Holt and Marsh, two identical folders would have to be created; one for Holt and one for Marsh.
Ensure the records are easily retrievable if the event that a tenant disputes a listing made and that sound evidence is able to be produced for the listing if required in the future. A best practice document that can used as a manual or electronic file can be found at member online.
22.5 Common providers of database services
Three common providers to the industry of tenancy default databases are;
TICA (Tenancy Information Centre of Australia)
NTD (National Tenancy Database)
Barclay MIS (Database and Debt recovery)
22.6 What are the penalties for breaching tenancy database laws?
Breaches of the laws carry a penalty of between 20 and 40 units per offence ($121.90 per unit) for individuals. Corporations found guilty could face fines 5 times that amount.