Darwin Community Legal Service

Tenancy databases

Tenancy databases, also known as blacklists or bad tenant databases are electronic records about a tenant’s rental history.

Who are Tenancy database operators?

Tenancy database operators run and manage tenancy databases. They are a private organisation and several operate throughout Australia. The most common database operators are Tenancy Information Centre Australasia (TICA) and the National Tenancy Database (NTD).

How do they effect tenants?

Being listed on a tenancy database can make it very difficult to find rental accommodation and may prevent a tenant from being accepted for a private rental property. Landlords, real estate agents, boarding house operators and caravan park managers can use databases to do a check and find out information about ‘bad’ tenants. In this factsheet, a reference to a ‘landlord’ includes all these housing providers. It does not include the Department of Housing who do not use private residential tenancy databases.

Changes to the Law

From 1 July 2018 a person can only have their information listed on a database for a maximum of 3 years. From 1 July 2018 there will be a 3-month period where all existing listings should be updated by tenancy database operators. After that time a tenant may challenge a listing they believe to be incorrect, inaccurate, unclear or out of date.

When you can be listed

A tenant can only be blacklisted if either:

  • the tenant owes the landlord an amount of money that is more than the bond because the tenant breached the tenancy agreement or
  • an order is made by the Northern Territory Civil and Administrative Tribunal (‘NTCAT’) to end the lease because of a breach by the tenant

The information listed about that tenant can only be in relation to that breach and must be complete, accurate and clear. See our Residential Tenancies Act factsheet for examples of breaches of the tenancy agreement.

How to find out if you have been listed

If you would like to know about a listing, you can contact either the landlord or the database operator. The landlord or database operator may not charge a fee for requesting the information, however may charge a fee to access the information. If the landlord or database operator charges a fee, the tenant is required to pay the fee otherwise the landlord or database operator does not have to provide the information. The landlord or database operator must provide you the information listed about you within 14 days of the request or when the fee is paid. If the tenant believes the fee is excessive, they can apply to NTCAT who will decide whether the fee is reasonable.

How to challenge a listing

If a landlord decides they want to list a tenant then at least 28 days before listing the tenant on the database, they must, in writing, give the tenant a free copy of the information they are planning on listing. The tenant can write to the landlord and object to the proposed information’s entry, accuracy, completeness or clarity before the landlord lists that information on a database.

If the information about you is already publicly available in court or tribunal records, then the landlord is not required to notify the tenant prior to listing them.

A tenant may also apply to NTCAT to challenge the information listed about them on a database if they believe it is incorrect, out of date, or unclear.

If the landlord becomes aware that information they have listed about a tenant is inaccurate, incomplete, unclear or out of date they must, within 7 days of becoming aware, provide written notice to the database operator to have that information corrected or removed. The database operator then has 14 days to amend or remove the information accordingly.

When you need to be notified if the database has been used If a landlord uses a database to check information about a potential tenant, they must, within 7 days after accessing the information, give the potential tenant written notice stating:

  • the name of the database
  • the information about the potential tenant on that database
  • the name of the person who listed the potential tenant
  • how the potential tenant can have that information removed or corrected

 

Useful Contacts

Darwin Community Legal Service – Tenants’ Advice Service

Ph: 1800 812 953

E: tas@dcls.org.au

 

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

Ph: 1300 363 992