Agents are being warned to contact everyone on their databases now and prepare for the introduction of the General Database Protection Regulations in May next year.
They are also being told that the potential implications for their businesses of leaving plans too late are enormous.
For example, businesses will only be allowed to hold data on customers and clients for the purposes for which it was provided and will have to securely dispose of that data once that purpose has been fulfilled.
The warning comes from industry trainer and business mentor Michael Day of Integra Property Services and traceWiseUK.
At the end of next March, Day said the shutters will come down on the part of the traceWiseUK business which supplies agents with home owner information.
He said: “Most of the information we supply is to letting agents seeking to contact landlords. Land Registry data will identify the owner of a property but, more often than not, the landlord actually lives somewhere else.”
“At traceWiseUK we cross check literally dozens of Data Protection Act compliant databases to establish the correct address (and often telephone numbers too), and supply this to agents.”
“The issue is that under the GDPR, it will no longer be possible for us to provide this data to enable agents to contact landlords for marketing purposes because under GDPR, the person whose data we access must have specifically opted in to the end user for the purpose required and not just generically, as at present.”
“GDPR is going to be a huge issue for agents who will need to ensure that any datasets they use comply with the new rules.”
For traceWiseUK, the issue is that property owners have not specifically opted in to a service to supply their details to specific agents. The issue of agents using Land Registry data for marketing purposes clearly becomes questionable under GDPR.
For agents there are other potential issues beyond not simply getting the leads that they are now receiving from some organisations.
Day said that a vendor instructing an agent and an applicant registering with them often end up on a database that is then used to stay in contact subsequently.
However, under the new Regulations, once the deal has been done, then the original purpose has been achieved. Under GDPR, agents will not be able to keep data on either vendor or buyer and use it for any other purpose (e.g. marketing) unless they have specifically opted in to receive future information that might, for example, included updates on the local property market.
Day said: “Agents have until May to clean up their databases and get people to opt in, but no one should wait until then.”
Day is predicting that at some state, there will be a high-profile test case over how well agents are fulfilling the new database requirements.
traceWiseUK is now only offering agents property owner tracing until the end of March, at rates between £12.50 and £15 plus VAT dependent upon volume.
traceWiseUK will however continue to offer its anti-money laundering ID check service to agents. Online ID checks cost just £1.50 plus VAT (£1.80)
The firm’s recent flyer sent to agents suggests they should “fill their boots” between now and then on local landlord leads.