Can I give references about previous tenants?

Question from Meg Wilding updated on 8th October 2007:

References for previous tenants/Privacy Act I occasionally get asked to supply references for previous tenants. Does the Privacy Act prevent me from supplying this information without a waiver from my old tenants? I know that when supplying trade credit references I needed to see authorisation from the client to discuss their credit rating. Is it the same rule with tenant references? Thanks very much for your assistance.

Our expert Jeff Montgomery responded:

You need verbal or written consent from your previous tenants before you can provide information about them to another person. If the tenants gave your contact details to another landlord, it is likely they consented for you to provide information about them. To be sure, check with the tenant before you give the landlord a reference or ask the landlord if the tenant nominated you as a referee.

The Department of Building and Housing provides information and guidance on building law and compliance, services including weathertight homes, and advice for tenants and landlords.

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