Information Commissioner's Office
‘Room for improvement in sales and lettings agents’ data handling’ says ICO report
Estate agents and lettings agents need to do more to look after people’s personal data, a report published by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.
The report was compiled after the ICO visited a number of residential sales and lettings agents across the UK, to look at how they were complying with data protection law.
Auditors found many common findings across the visits, including:
- Staff had little formal training for data protection
- Customers were not always told how their personal information would be used
- Customer data was kept for longer than necessary
- There was a lack of awareness about the importance of using technical security controls like encryption
- Paper records containing personal data weren’t kept securely
The report includes eight pages of advice on how agencies can improve their practices to ensure they stay in line with the Data Protection Act. The ICO has the power to fine organisations that fail to follow the law up to £500,000.
Leanne Doherty, Good Practice Group Manager at the ICO, said:
“More than half a million people work in the real estate sector in the UK. That’s a lot of people handling a lot of personal data. It’s an important responsibility to get that right, and our report suggests there’s room for improvement in a lot of sales and lettings agents.
“The series of visits we carried out suggested a limited understanding of data protection. It was particularly concerning that people weren’t being told clearly how their information was being used, and that their data was being kept longer than necessary.
“We’d urge agents to take the time to look at our recommendations and to make changes to improve what they’re doing. The prevention measures we list are far less painful than the cure of a £500,000 fine.”
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- The ICO is onTwitter, FacebookandLinkedIn. Read more in the ICO blogand e-newsletter.Our Press Office page provides more information for journalists.
Latest News from
Information Commissioner's Office
Tribute to His Royal Highness The Duke of Edinburgh12/04/2021 14:10:00
Statement from Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner.
Blog: Data Protection law can help create public trust and confidence around COVID-status certification schemes29/03/2021 12:25:00
Blog posted by: Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, 26 March 2021.
Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport and the Information Commissioner sign Memorandum of Understanding on data adequacy22/03/2021 14:33:00
Having left the EU, the Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport now holds powers to make independent UK data adequacy arrangements with new partners around the world, making it easier for organisations to send data internationally.
Blog: Building on the data sharing code – our plans for updating our anonymisation guidance22/03/2021 11:05:00
Data is the lifeblood of the digital economy, and the sharing of personal data is key to opening up new opportunities. Data shared in healthcare environments can map out trends and provide new insights to improve patient care, while in the financial sector, data sharing can help to protect against money laundering and ensure individuals are protected from fraud.
Secretary of State for the DCMS and the Information Commissioner sign Memorandum of Understanding on Data Adequacy19/03/2021 12:07:00
Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, now holds powers to make independent UK data adequacy arrangements.
Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum publishes its first annual plan of work10/03/2021 14:15:00
The Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum (DRCF) today outlined its priorities for the coming year, marking a step-change in coordination of regulation across digital and online services.
Blog: Supporting UK democracy through data protection with new political campaigning guidance09/03/2021 12:25:00
Blog posted by: Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, 09 March 2021.
ICO fines firms for sending more than 2.7 million spam text messages during the pandemic05/03/2021 15:05:00
Two separate companies that sent nuisance text messages during the Covid-19 pandemic have been fined a total of £330,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).