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Can the OPC smack landlords?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

This week's question comes from Thomas (paraphrased):  

What are the legal effects (if any) of the OPC's guidelines for landlords and what enforcement power does the OPC have?

You will recall that over the course of the last few months, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner published, took back and republished its Guidance for landlords and tenants. The latest version (with the NZPIF's input) is available both as a short-form guidance information fact sheet and full guidance document outlining the framework principles landlords are advised to operate within.

As to its legal effects, there are none. The guidelines are just that, guidelines. In general, the OPC does not have any enforcement powers against landlords. It does, however, have the power to investigate pursuant to a tenant's complaint that his/her privacy has been breached by the landlord. If your tenant is to make such a complaint and the nature of the complaint passes the OPC's threshold for investigation, it will notify you the details and request a response. In most cases, a settlement will be reached between the parties that typically involves an apology. If the tenant considers the harm from the breach of privacy is so serious as to warrant compensation, he/she may seek to have the landlord penalised accordingly. 

For more privacy information, refer to the resources on the OPC website

Do you have any tenancy related questions? Write to us at admin@apia.org.nz or hit us up on our social channels here and here

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