Data protection

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  • #32010

    I am sorry if this seems like a really dumb question but here goes.

    A landlord has written in stating that his tenant is in rent arrears and wants future HB payments to go to him. Trouble is, claimant is now not on HB as he has started work.

    Can I tell the landlord that his tenant is not on HB and therefore nothing to pay him in the future?


    Kevin D

    This is a tough one. The LL *could* just be trying to find out exactly that information – i.e. whether or not the tenant is on HB.

    My inclination would be to write to the tenant first asking for his views on the LL’s request, but warning (nicely) the tenant that it may prove impossible to avoid responding officially to the LL.

    Because there is no “live” HB award or outstanding claim, I think the LA is prevented from providing anything other than the most limited information – s.35(2) of the DPA doesn’t provide an “out” in these circumstances because the LL has no legal rights in relation to HB. In the absence of an award of HB, the LL isn’t even a person affected.

    If the tenant objects (especially if he denies being 8 weeks in arrears), my response would be along the lines of “…having checked its records, the Council advises there is currently no benefit that can be paid to you. No further information can be given about your tenant because it is subject to the Data Protection Act”.

    Now, had benefit been in payment, the DPA would NOT have prevented the LA from giving relevant info to the LL – in fact, the LA would have been duty bound to disclose such info. So, a savvy landlord would correctly deduce the reference to the LA’s response did in fact mean no benefit was in payment.

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