South Australia’s Residential Tenancies Act 1995 is currently going through a reform process. The review covers a wide range of aspects, including issues related to renters’ digital rights and privacy.
Digital Rights Watch made a submission, focusing on renters’ right to privacy, digital security of renters’ data, and the risk of discrimination or exclusion based on inappropriate use of personal information.
We urge Consumer and Business Services of SA to consider the ways that digital technologies are changing the nature of renting a home across Australia, and the often-detrimental impacts they are having on renter privacy, security, and the balance of power between landlords and renters.
In particular, we focus on:
- the need for robust safeguards and limitations on the use of third-party rental application and property management platforms and apps, including those using automated decision-making systems
- how digital technologies can create legal grey areas and incentivise rent bidding,
- access to information held on residential tenancy databases or ‘blacklists’,
- standardised application forms, to limit the amount and type of personal information that a real estate agent or landlord can ask for, and,
- the need for rules to limit the indirect collection of personal information about renters (e.g. through reference checks, social media profiles, or data brokers.
We also highlight that many of the issues related to the infringement of renter privacy are not just a matter of legality. There is a distinct power imbalance between landlords/real estate agents and renters. Digital technologies claiming to provide marginal improvements to service delivery are exacerbating this power imbalance.
You can read our full submission below, or download the PDF here.
Want to get involved and have your say?
Feel free to use our submission as inspiration. You can also reference it directly in your own submission!
Consumer and Business Services of SA are accepting submissions and survey responses until 16 December 2022. More infomation here.
More from Digital Rights Watch on this issue:
- ‘A real estate agent data breach would be devastating for renters. They collect too much personal information‘, The Guardian, 4 October 2022
- ‘Data breach waiting to happen’: Warning for real estate agents and renters on personal info requests’, Sydney Morning Herald, 20 October 2022
- ‘Harcourts Melbourne City real estate agency advises customers of data breach’, ABC News, 2 November 2022
- ‘Advocates had warned of the dangers of a real estate data breach. It just happened’, SBS News, 3 November 2022
- ‘Imperfect match: Australian renters in the dark over use of data by tech company Snug’, The Guardian, 17 November 2022