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Data Protection Commissioner to examine legality of estate agents collecting personal financial data

In June 2021, Savills estate agents found themselves at the forefront of a controversy regarding GDPR compliance.

A screenshot emerged on social media from a person who had registered their interest in a new housing development in Lucan. The image shows a mass email from Savills requesting various confidential documents in order to secure a viewing of a unit at the new development.

Whilst it is not unusual nor improper for certain details to be requested for operational purposes when arranging house-viewings, the sensitive nature of what was requested in this particular instance is what sparked debate.

 

The message read, “If interested in securing an appointment for a viewing you are required to fill out a questionnaire and provide evidence of your approval in principle, help to buy approval, your personal saving deposits and evidence of any cash gifts from family.

The evidence must be a primary source of information, not just stating you have the means.”

 

The email continues and states “that no information may be redacted from these documents… doing so will disqualify you from their viewing process.”

This comes in the midst of a crippling housing crisis. New developments such as this are few and far between. Those who are desperate to secure themselves a home may feel no option but to meet these invasive demands, providing the estate agents with an invaluable database of information on exactly how much people have to spend.

This is not only immoral, it may also be in breach of the GDPR and the Irish data protection laws. Whilst the DPC is continuing to examine the information it has received in relation to this matter, it has contacted Savills to register it’s concern about their practices and plans to issue further guidance in relation to this issue.

Data protection laws are applicable in situations whereby an individual’s information is used by another person or organisation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is the law which applies across the EU.

A data ‘controller’ is a person or organisation that decides how and why an individual’s (the data subject’s) personal data is processed. A data ‘processor’ is a person or organisation which processes personal data on behalf of the data controller. Both have strict responsibilities and obligations under GDPR.

 

Article 5 GDPR outlines the principles of data protection, in particular, that data processed must be for a specific purpose and limited to what is necessary. Furthermore, controllers should provide certain information when collecting personal information such as the legal basis for processing that data, who it will be shared with and how long it will be stored.

Personal data may also only be collected when the data controller has a legal justification for doing so.

There are six core fundamentals for the legal basis under Art 6 GDPR outlining when personal data may be collected;

  • consent
  • contractual necessity
  • compliance with a legal obligation
  • protecting vital interests
  • performance of an official task
  • legitimate interest

The basis of legitimate interest will only apply where the interest is not outweighed by that of the data subject. It is the responsibility of the data controller/ to identify the legal basis upon which they are reliant.

It is arguable that in this instance, Savills have failed to comply with the necessary requirements for the collection of such data under Article 5 and Article 6. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the DPC’s investigation and any further outcomes of this case.

For your information

For more information or if you feel your data may be the subject of GDPR breach send an enquiry to our offices on info@cmhaughey.ie.

Immediate Callback from a Solicitor or Freephone: 1800 93 88 93

C.M. Haughey Solicitors, Christchurch Hall, High Street, Dublin 8, Tel (01) 421 4220, Fax (01) 454 8338

*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

*This statement is made in compliance with Reg. 8 of the SI 518 or 2002.

Freephone:

1800 93 88 93

Contact Info

C.M. Haughey Solicitors,
Christchurch Hall, High Street,
Dublin 8,

Tel (01) 421 4220,
Fax (01) 454 8338
Email: info@cmhaughey.ie

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*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement.

*This statement is made in compliance with Reg. 8 of the SI 518 or 2002.