The Residential Tenancy Database Working Party (Working Party) has released its Report on Residential Tenancy Databases. The Working Party was established by the Ministerial Council on Consumer Affairs and the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General in response to public concerns about the use and operation of residential tenancy databases (RTDs) in Australia. RTDs contain information about an individual’s tenancy history and are commonly used to screen prospective tenants and to list tenants who are in breach of their tenancy agreements.
As part of its review, the Working Party released an issues paper to seek the public’s input on problems and issues associated with RTDs. The Working Party received 61 submissions from stakeholders in response to the issues paper. The new report identifies key issues arising from those submissions and provides an overview of existing Commonwealth, state and territory legislation that regulate RTDs.
The main recommendation in the report is that the states and territories should adopt model uniform legislation to address issues concerning the use of RTDs, including:
informing prospective tenants about the RTD process
the types of listings permitted on RTDs
clarity as to the events that may result in a RTD listing
a tenant’s ability to access, correct and dispute a RTD listing, and
the duration of a RTD listing.
In addition, the report recommends that the Commonwealth Government should take certain measures to ensure that the Privacy Act 1988 (Act) applies to all RTDs. Those measures include:
prescribing RTD owners as ‘organisations’ for the purposes of the Act, and
considering the Privacy Commissioner’s recommendation for a binding privacy code that applies to RTDs, as recommended by the Privacy Commissioner in her report, Getting in on the Act: The Review of the Private Sector Provisions of the Privacy Act 1988.
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The issue of recording telephone calls was recently considered in the Federal Court in Furnari v Ziegert  FCA 1080.
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