Tenancy databases are used by agents to screen prospective tenants.
What is a tenancy database?
Tenancy databases hold information about tenants. These databases have also been referred to as ‘blacklists’ or ‘bad tenant databases’. The databases can only be used by members who pay membership fees.
There are a number of tenancy databases that operate in NSW, including TICA, National Tenancy Database and Trading Reference Australia. These databases are run by private companies, not by the Government or the NSW Civil and Administrative
The Residential Tenancies Act 2010 sets out who, when, and why a person can be listed.
Who can be listed?
A tenant can only be listed on a database if they are named on the lease as a tenant. Approved or unapproved occupants, visitors or children cannot be listed.
When can a tenant be listed?
A tenant can only be listed on a database after their tenancy has ended. Tenants cannot be listed on a database if they fall behind with a rent payment, are given a termination notice or are not looking after the property in a satisfactory way.
For what reasons can a tenant be listed?
A tenant can only be listed on a database for one or both of the following reasons:
- They have vacated owing an amount more than the rental bond for a breach that is still outstanding.
- The Tribunal has made an order terminating the agreement because of something the tenant has done wrong.
Any information recorded on a database must identify the reason for the listing in an accurate, complete and clear way. For example, 'eviction order given on grounds of rent arrears, tenant owes $500 in rent above the bond'.
Tenancies terminated due to domestic violence
Landlords and agents cannot list a tenant on a database if the tenant ended the tenancy in circumstances of domestic violence.
This help to limit the potential negative impact a domestic violence termination could have on survivors trying to secure alternative rental accommodation.
For more information see breaking a lease early.
How will tenants know if they have been listed?
Landlords or agents must let tenants know in writing if they want to list them on a tenancy database.
They must give the tenant at least 14 days to object before listing them on the database. A tenant can apply to the Tribunal if they think the proposed listing is incorrect or unjust.
If a tenant applies for a tenancy and the landlord or agent discovers they have been listed on a database, they need to let the tenant know in writing. They should inform the tenant of the contact details of the person who has listed them and how they can go about checking what the listing says. They do not have to advise the tenant of the reason for the listing.
Tenants are entitled to a copy of the information from the person who listed them (free of charge) or direct from the database operator. The database operator can charge tenants a fee for the information but it must not be excessive. Some database operators also provide information over the phone but be aware that high charges may apply.
Removal of out-of-date, incorrect or unjust listings
Any listing that is older than three years must be removed from a database. Listings under three years must also be removed if they are 'out-of-date'.
Listings also need to be amended if the information is inaccurate, incomplete or unclear.
Tenants can also seek to have their name removed from a tenancy database if they think the listing was unjust. An agent or landlord needs to make the change themselves within 7 days, or 14 days if they need to notify the database operator.
Disputes in the Tribunal
Tenants can apply to the Tribunal to have incorrect, out-of-date or unjust listings removed if they cannot resolve the matter with the agent or landlord.
The Tribunal can order information about a tenant in the database to be wholly or partly removed, changed, or not listed at all if it was a proposed listing. The Tribunal can also award compensation to a tenant if they have suffered a loss as a result of inaccurate, unclear or out-of-date information being listed on a tenancy database.