Previously, databases were subject to the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) but were not regulated by the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic). Being listed on a database can seriously impact a tenant’s ability to access rental accommodation. In some cases, listings result in homelessness. The amendments address a number of problems created by the unregulated use of databases. In particular, they impose mechanisms for tenants to be notified about a listing, restrict when a tenant can be listed, and impose a time limit on the life of listings. These amendments affect tenants and residents of rooming houses, caravans and Part 4A parks.
A tenant may apply to VCAT for an order prohibiting a landlord or database operator from listing information about a tenant, requiring the landlord or database operator to amend information contained on the residential tenancy database, or requiring a landlord or database operator to remove information. The tenant may apply to VCAT regarding listings made before the commencement of the amendments.
A fact sheet regarding Tenancy Databases is available on the Tenants Union of Victoria website.
CATHERINE MILLER is a Trainee Solicitor with the Tenants Union of Victoria.