Tenant databases or "blacklists" - Tenants Victoria

Tenant databases or “blacklists”

When you apply for a rental property, landlords and real estate agents sometimes use tenant databases to check if you have been “blacklisted” by previous landlords or real estate agents.

What are tenant databases?

Tenant databases are run by private companies who collect information about tenants and make it available to landlords, real estate agents and tenants, usually for a fee. Some database companies.

Why are tenants listed?

You can only be listed on a tenant database if:

  • you owe the landlord more money than the bond will cover, or
  • VCAT has given the landlord a Possession Order for the property,

because you:

  • breached the tenancy agreement; or
  • caused malicious damage to the property; or
  • used the property for an illegal purpose; or
  • sub-let or assigned the property to another person without the landlord’s consent; or
  • caused a danger to neighbours or a person in the rooming house or caravan park; or
  • were late paying rent by more than 14 days (if you were a tenant)
    or more than 7 days (if you were a rooming house or caravan park resident); or
  • breached a compliance order made by VCAT.

You shouldn’t be listed on a tenant database if your name was not on the tenancy agreement.

You shouldn’t be listed on a tenant database if the tenancy agreement hasn’t ended.

You shouldn’t be listed on a tenant database unless the landlord or agent has:

  1. given you a copy of the information to be listed (or taken other reasonable steps to give you the information); and
  2. given you at least 14 days to respond; and
  3. considered any objections or changes from you.

If there is a listing about you which doesn’t meet the above requirements you can take steps to change or remove the listing.

What landlords have to tell you

…when you apply for a rental property

If a landlord or agent usually uses a tenant database to assess rental applications, they must tell you in writing at the time that you apply, including:

  • name of the database
  • that the database is used for checking an applicant’s rental history
  • database company’s contact details.

…if they find a listing about you

If a landlord or agent finds you are listed on a tenant database, they must tell you in writing within 7 days, including:

  • the name of the database
  • that the database has personal information about you
  • the name of each person who listed the information (if available)
  • how the listing can be removed or corrected

…if they want to “blacklist” you

If a landlord or agent wants to list you on a tenant database, they must:

  1. give you a copy of the information to be listed (or take other reasonable steps to give you the information); and
  2. give you at least 14 days to respond; and
  3. consider any objections or changes from you.

How long do listings last?

A listing can stay on a tenancy database for a maximum of 3 years, but it must be removed sooner if it is “out-of-date” according to the law.

Stop a listing

If the landlord or agent has threatened to “blacklist” you but their reasons are not lawful, you can apply to VCAT for an order to stop the landlord or database company from listing you on a database.

Check if you are listed

Things you should know:

  • Most tenants are not listed.

    There is no reason to check a tenant database unless you have reason to believe that you might be listed (for example, if a landlord has threatened to ‘blacklist’ you). Remember there are only two reasons that you can be listed. See: Why are tenants listed?

  • Landlords have to tell you if you are listed.

    You have the right to know if you are listed on a tenant database and landlords have a duty to tell you. If your application for a rental property is rejected and you aren’t told why, you can send a written request to the landlord (or agent) asking which tenancy databases they checked and if they found any listings with information about you. They must tell you if they find a listing about you. And if a landlord wants to blacklist you, they should give you a copy of the information to be listed. See: What landlords have to tell you.

  • There are lots of database companies.

    There isn’t just one tenant database that you can check. There are different database companies that have different information. If you don’t know which database company your landlord uses, you might waste your time and money checking the wrong one.

  • You might have to pay a fee.

    Most database companies ask you to pay a fee for them to check if you are listed. The law says that landlords and database companies can charge a fee for giving you this information. But they can’t charge a fee for your request if they don’t give you any information. The law also says the fee must not be “excessive”. Some database companies provide this information for free, but they ask for a lot of your personal information before they give you any information.

  • Database companies want lots of your personal details.

    Most database companies will ask you to give them more information than they end up giving you. They ask for personal details such as your date of birth, driver’s licence, Medicare or passport number, rental history, employment history and credit card information.

Be aware that some of these companies are also debt collectors. They may ask for your current address and use this for the purpose of debt collecting.

How to check

  1. Read Things you should know
  2. Send a written request to the landlord asking which tenancy databases they use and if there are any listings about you. You can send this request to the landlord (or agent) that you think has listed you. Or you can send this request to the landlord (or agent) that has rejected your tenancy application. Or both.
  3. If you have no luck getting any information from the landlord (or agent), and you still think you are listed, you can send a written request to a database company to check if you are listed. Before you do, it will help if you find out which tenancy database companies the landlord (or agent) uses.
  4. The landlord or database company that listed you must give you a copy of any information they find about you within 14 days of receiving your written request. The landlord or agent that has rejected your tenancy application must tell you in writing if they find any listings with information about you. See: What landlords have to tell you.

Some database companies

We recommend that you don’t contact database companies directly except as a last resort.

ntd: ntd.net.au

National Tenancy Database (ntd) is a division of Veda Advantage
1300 563 826

TICA: tica.com.au and tenantblacklist.com.au

Tenant Information Centre of Australia (TICA)
TICA has a 1900 number for tenant enquiries that charges $5.45 per minute (higher from mobile and pay phones): Contact TICA

TRA: tradingreference.com

Tenant Reference Australia/Trading Reference Australia (TRA)
info@tradingreference.com
02 9363 9244
Contact TRA

Veda: veda.com.au and www.tenancycheck.com.au/home

Veda Advantage Ltd.
Veda have an online form for tenant enquiries on their TenancyCheck website: Contact Veda

DataKatch datakatch.com.au

DataKatch Pty Ltd
03 9013 0133
Contact DataKatch

Change or remove a listing

A listing must be removed if it is more than 3 years-old or “out-of-date” (according to the law). A listing must be changed or removed if it is incomplete, unclear or “inaccurate” (according to the law). For tenancy law, “out-of-date” and “inaccurate” have set meanings (explained below).

If you are listed because you owe the landlord more money than the bond and then:

  • you pay the money within 3 months of the due date, the listing becomes “out-of-date” and must be removed.
  • you pay the money 3 months or more after the due date, the listing becomes “inaccurate” and must be changed, but it might not be removed completely.
  • you pay some of the money, the listing could be incomplete or misleading if it says you owe more.

If you are listed because VCAT has given the landlord a Possession Order and then:

  • VCAT cancels the Possession Order at a review hearing, the listing becomes “out-of-date” and must be removed.

Steps to change or remove a listing

If the information listed about you is out-of-date, inaccurate, incomplete or misleading:

  1. you should write to the landlord or real estate agent to ask them to correct or remove the listing
  2. the landlord or agent must write to the database company within 7 days of receiving your written notice and ask them to correct or remove the listing
  3. the database company must make the changes within 14 days of receiving written notice.

What to do if the listing doesn’t change

The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 makes it an offence for a landlord or database company to make a listing in breach of the Act.

If you have been unlawfully listed and a landlord or database company is refusing to correct or remove the listing you can:

 

This information is a guide only and should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice.

 

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Tenants Victoria | Published: September 2015
Tenants help line 03 9416 2577 | tuv.org.au
Tenants Victoria acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.

Tenants Victoria acknowledges the support of the Victorian Government.