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The government appears to be building a national database on renters using information collected without consent

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Not long after moving into a new rental in a new area I received a council tax bill, although council tax is included in the rent and the landlady is liable.

I thought it strange the local council had my personal data to contact me at all, as I'd never given it to them.

I went to ask about it and a person who didn't gave their name eventually called me back from an unknown number, told me it was a mistake and to destroy the bill. I thought that strange too.

I submitted a written complaint and received a response that said the landlady had to fill in a form with the details of the tenants.

Quote

I have reviewed the Council Tax account for [removed] and find that we were notified on 27th November 2018 via an on-line form that 3 people had moved into the property including yourself.

But I never gave consent to anyone to hand over my data and I hate them building these databases they never secure properly and that could fall into anyone's hands.

I've posted an anonymised copy of the response I received here:

https://telegra.ph/Email-from-local-council-showing-renters-database-02-06

I have a copy of the form that was submitted which has also been redacted.

I don't have a twitter or a facebook account, but I hoped some readers here might help by:

- writing to ask if your local government has been doing this too

- asking some journalists to do start doing their f*c*ing job

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26 minutes ago, darkmarket said:

Not long after moving into a new rental in a new area I received a council tax bill, although council tax is included in the rent and the landlady is liable.

I thought it strange the local council had my personal data to contact me at all, as I'd never given it to them.

I went to ask about it and a person who didn't gave their name eventually called me back from an unknown number, told me it was a mistake and to destroy the bill. I thought that strange too.

I submitted a written complaint and received a response that said the landlady had to fill in a form with the details of the tenants.

But I never gave consent to anyone to hand over my data and I hate them building these databases they never secure properly and that could fall into anyone's hands.

I've posted an anonymised copy of the response I received here:

https://telegra.ph/Email-from-local-council-showing-renters-database-02-06

I have a copy of the form that was submitted which has also been redacted.

I don't have a twitter or a facebook account, but I hoped some readers here might help by:

- writing to ask if your local government has been doing this too

- asking some journalists to do start doing their f*c*ing job

Your LL?

 

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LAs tally when people levae one address and move to another, so they know when and where to charge council tax.

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1 minute ago, spyguy said:

LAs tally when people levae one address and move to another, so they know when and where to charge council tax.

I'm not liable for anything, if they just want to keep a log of who's where they can't do that by asking landlords to pass the info on behind my back.

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The information I got from the government site wasn't very helpful (just said "usually") but the next link came from Preston City Council. From that it looks like you're responsible for it, so they'll have to get your name sooner or later, even if the LL pays on your behalf (by it being part of your rent, from which the LL presumably pays the council):

Who is responsible for paying Council Tax on a property?

There is a strict hierarchy of who is responsible for paying the Council Tax on a chargeable dwelling (property). The person responsible for the Council Tax on a property will be the person who comes first on the following list: 

  • a resident of the property who has a freehold interest in the whole or any part of it
  • a resident of the property who has a leasehold interest in the whole or part of it which is not inferior to another such resident leaseholder's interest
  • a resident who is a statutory or secure tenant of the whole or any part of the property
  • a resident who has a contractual license to occupy the whole or any part of the property
  • a resident of the property
  • the owner of the property

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1 minute ago, Riedquat said:

From that it looks like you're responsible for it, so they'll have to get your name sooner or later, even if the LL pays on your behalf (by it being part of your rent, from which the LL presumably pays the council):

Not at all, they say so in the letter:

Quote

It has now been established that the property is a house in multiple occupation and the Council Tax account has been updated to reflect this.  I can confirm that you do not owe [removed] Borough Council any Council Tax for this property.

But the form is just for a list of the names of the people renting the apartment, even though none of us are liable and none of us were told or asked.

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22 minutes ago, spyguy said:

LAs tally when people levae one address and move to another, so they know when and where to charge council tax.

But the point in the OP is that the LA have data on the tenant (eg: name, and date of move to property) and the tenant did not give consent to the LA to have that data.

It has been demonstrated that in this case (an HMO) the tenant has no responsibility for the council tax. And confirmed by the LA.

So the landlord leaked data to the LA - for all the occupants of the HMO?

That said: GDPR includes the idea that an organisation is allowed to data where it is necessary for providing a service to their end user.

If darkmarket wishes the LA to end all service to herself/himself then there is a case for deleting darkmarket's details from their database (and potentially pay a fine for capturing this data without confirming that they are going to hold this for the purpose of delivering the LA's services). I am not a lawyer, of course.

Potentially, (in commercial terms/if the LA wasn't a government service provider) - the LA and the LL are both ion the wrong. But the LL would simply say: the LA requires me to fill in this form.

Does the LA have to have this data in order to deliver police services (for example)? And other public services?

Even if they do require this, darkmarket should surely have been asked "directly" anyway?

 

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1 hour ago, Aidan Ap Word said:

(and potentially pay a fine for capturing this data without confirming that they are going to hold this for the purpose of delivering the LA's services). I am not a lawyer, of course.

Yes, I'm wondering about the possibility of a class-action lawsuit too.

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2 hours ago, darkmarket said:

I'm not liable for anything, if they just want to keep a log of who's where they can't do that by asking landlords to pass the info on behind my back.

Your contract with your landlord doesn't matter. You are liable for the council tax and, if she decided not to pay it, you would have no defence against a claim by the local authority.

https://singletrackworld.com/forum/topic/landlord-not-paying-council-tax/

As a resident of the property the council has a justifiable requirement to be able to identify you, and to request the owner of the property identify you. In the same way you can't avoid a speeding fine by claiming you weren't driving the car but don't know who was. 

In the first instance I'd recommend you write to your local councils data officer asking for a judgement, then take it up with the ICO if you don't like the reply. 

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/individual-rights/right-to-erasure/

Incidentally, if your landlord refused to pay your council tax for you, that would be a civil matter between you and your landlord that you would have to pursue at your own cost. The council won't care when they fine you for non payment of council tax.

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2 minutes ago, regprentice said:

Incidentally, if your landlord refused to pay your council tax for you, that would be a civil matter between you and your landlord that you would have to pursue at your own cost. The council won't care when they fine you for non payment of council tax.

Thanks, yes I'm a bit concerned about her solvency but I think she's genuine enough. Worst-case scenario I could handle that anyway.

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4 hours ago, spyguy said:

LAs tally when people levae one address and move to another, so they know when and where to charge council tax.

 

4 hours ago, darkmarket said:

I'm not liable for anything, if they just want to keep a log of who's where they can't do that by asking landlords to pass the info on behind my back.

They want to collect council tax, and pursue unpaid council tax. The "Deposit Protection Scheme" is another way to keep tabs on tenants for council tax purposes.

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Don't the LA collect info on who is living where for electoral role every year.? I got into an argument with someone about this....it didn't help that their first letter threatens legal sanction and fines..with imprisonment implied as final sanction...nice.

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5 hours ago, darkmarket said:

I'm not liable for anything, if they just want to keep a log of who's where they can't do that by asking landlords to pass the info on behind my back.

If the LL has protected your deposit that info is passed on to the HMRC, so you are already in the system. 

The LL has to account for who is occupying the building to pay the council tax. If you were paying the tax directly it would be something you have to do.

I think Experian has started,  or is about to start, collecting details of rental payments for credit scoring purposes.

I am not sure what it is you are complaining about, they days of being able to float around unnoticed have long gone. Probably a good thing as if the rental system is to be effectively regulated details of both LLs and tenants are going to have to be within the system.

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In my opinion only the owner should be liable for council tax, since it's part of the deal: take a chunk of land of the market = you're liable for all costs. If the property is rented out the rent amount should include council tax so the tenant doesn't have to think about it. Landlords shouldn't have the power whilst the tenants get the responsibility. If left empty the council is still collecting it from the owner, might discourage the buy-to-leave trend too.

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6 hours ago, Confusion of VIs said:

I am not sure what it is you are complaining about

Being added to a database without my consent, not to mention the implicit risks in the database existing in the first place.

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47 minutes ago, darkmarket said:

Being added to a database without my consent, not to mention the implicit risks in the database existing in the first place.

No tears now oh uninformed one. Go and read GDPR and learn. Your government has no legal obligation to get your permission when they want to collect tax monies from you or believe you may owe them. 

Your suggestion is that any government body needs to ask your permission in order to function with the law of the state? Dream on champ.

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20 minutes ago, dragging boot straps said:

Your government has no legal obligation to get your permission when they want to collect tax monies from you or believe you may owe them.

That may as well be, but they wrote to the owner of the property who told them she would pay the council tax.

They separately asked her for the personal information of all the tenants, myself included.

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36 minutes ago, darkmarket said:

That may as well be, but they wrote to the owner of the property who told them she would pay the council tax.

They separately asked her for the personal information of all the tenants, myself included.

And so she gave them the information as she is legally required to do and the council recorded it which they are legally allowed to do as they need the information as part of their day to day business activities (so it's perfectly acceptable under GDPR)...

 

Edited by Houdini

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1 minute ago, Houdini said:

And so she gave them the information as she is legally required to do...

Yes, I don't blame her at all. I'm wondering is the data collection itself legal.

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1 minute ago, darkmarket said:

Yes, I don't blame her at all. I'm wondering is the data collection itself legal.

Yes - it's required to collect Council tax - if the tax isn't paid by someone else eventually they could (and will) chase you for it - and as I stated above where there is a need to store information for business purposes GDPR allows you to store it.

 

Edited by Houdini

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34 minutes ago, Houdini said:

Yes - it's required to collect Council tax - if the tax isn't paid by someone else eventually they could (and will) chase you for it.

Then why can't they contact me?

3 hours ago, EnglishinWales said:

A database of renters?

Tories keeping a record of Jeremy Corbyn supporters, lol.

I had a look at the council, its members and their registered interests. There are 43 altogether, 23 are Conservative, 17 are Labour, two are Liberal Democrat and one is independent.

30 provide a home address and no others, although rental properties could be outside the Council Borough or owned by a limited company.

Three have no registered address in the Council Borough. One of them lives with his parents and two, who share a surname, presumably live elsewhere.

One has a field and an allotment, one has a garage.

One declares the address of their small business, one declares two trusteeships and one owns an industrial estate and adjacent land.

Two who share a surname also declare rental incomes from three properties.

One, who declares no gainful employment, owns ten rental properties on two streets in one town, and her job title is Executive Councillor for Finance and Operational Services.

Edit to add: this person also has five declared appointments on Companies House. One is a local heritage trust, responsible for a large commercial development in the town where the rental properties are located which has faced several funding debacles and remains closed. Two are at a theatre trust, one of which is resigned. One is at a company providing training services to a local college, and one is at a community housing company.

I think it's reasonable to have concerns about the solvency of someone with an investment portfolio structured as declared, no other means of income, and to be concerned about their responsibility for finance and operational services for a local government area.

This evening I'll have a look at what data's available on the Council's investments, given what we know about local government commercial property shopping sprees.

Edited by darkmarket

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4 hours ago, EnglishinWales said:

In my opinion only the owner should be liable for council tax, since it's part of the deal: take a chunk of land of the market = you're liable for all costs. If the property is rented out the rent amount should include council tax so the tenant doesn't have to think about it. Landlords shouldn't have the power whilst the tenants get the responsibility.

All that will happen is that the LL will increase the rent to cover.  If I am renting a property I am using refuse collection, schools, roads etc there is no reason I should have those for free

15 hours ago, spyguy said:

I don't have a twitter or a facebook account, but I hoped some readers here might help by:

Good man - same here 

13 hours ago, regprentice said:

Your contract with your landlord doesn't matter. You are liable for the council tax and, if she decided not to pay it, you would have no defence against a claim by the local authority.

True 

11 hours ago, Wayward said:

Don't the LA collect info on who is living where for electoral role every year.?

They do yes and if you do not reply you can be fined

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