Senin, 14 Januari 2013

A note on database listings and the CTTT

A quick update on CTTT proceedings concerning the removal of residential tenancy database listings:

The Residential Tenancies Act says that a database listing should be removed after three years. It also says that tenants can apply to the Consumer, Trader & Tenancy Tribunal (CTTT) to resolve any dispute about a listing. This includes seeking orders for the removal of a listing that is more than three years old.

In a recent example that was handled by a Tenants' Advice & Advocacy Service, the landlord responsible for the listing could not be located. Instead, the database operator was listed as the sole respondent in the tenant's CTTT application.

The Tribunal didn't accept this. Instead, they rather unexpectedly located the landlord and served them with notice of the Tribunal hearing. They also removed the database operator as a respondent.

At the hearing, the Tribunal Member assured the tenant that the database operator would have to comply with any order made, notwithstanding that the operator was not a party to the proceedings. The Member relied on section 217 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 in reaching this conclusion:

217   Disputes about listings
(1) ApplicationA person may apply to the Tribunal for an order under this section if personal information about the person has been ... listed in a residential tenancy database.
(2) Grounds for orderThe Tribunal may make an order under this section if it is satisfied that:
(a)  the residential tenancy database includes personal information about the applicant that … has been listed on the database for longer than the applicable period specified in section 218
(3) Orders by TribunalThe Tribunal may order personal information about a person in a residential tenancy database to be wholly … removed … The Tribunal must give a copy of the order to the landlord, tenant and database operator.
(4) Orders affecting other personsIf the Tribunal makes an order directing a person other than a landlord or agent to remove … information in a residential tenancy database, the Tribunal must give a copy of the order to the person.

The result was that, once the CTTT hearing commenced, the tenant found it relatively easy to obtain an order for the listing to be removed. After three years the landlord was no longer concerned about the listing, and the database operator was never brought into the discussion.

(We should note here that, as the law is clear on the three year limit for database listings, there is no good reason why the order should not have been made anyway. But it's always nice to get a remedy in the Tribunal without being backed into an argument about whether or not you're entitled to it).

Our next lot of questions will concern the database operator's compliance with this order, and what the tenant might do to enforce it if the listing is not removed. We'll be keeping an eye on this.

More information on residential tenancy databases can be found at this link on the Tenants Advice & Advocacy Services' website.