House-hunters seeking to rent a home are increasingly being asked to provide references to secure a viewing of a rental property, contrary to data protection guidelines.
The practice has been criticised by housing charity Threshold, and the Data Protection Commission is examining a number of complaints from renters.
Landlords and letting agents are asking prospective tenants to provide payslips, references and personal details when making enquiries to view a property.
In some instances the person responsible for letting the property has claimed these details are required because of the impact of Covid-19.
The prospective tenant is then told they will hear back from the landlord or agent if they are going to be granted a viewing. In most cases the prospective tenant does not hear anything back. The rules on data protection say landlords may only seek such information if they are entering an agreement with a new tenant.
The Data Protection Commissioner said it is examining multiple complaints of landlords and agents seeking too much information from a person seeking to view a home, because "they must ensure they are only collecting the minimum amount of personal data necessary to conduct their business".
"Landlords and letting agents that process personal data have certain obligations under GDPR which requires them to be accountable and transparent with prospective tenants," a spokeswoman said.
Housing charity Threshold said the practice was exclusionary and unfair.
"In one recent example we have seen a landlord has required landlord references, work references, a copy of photo ID and proof of income," said chief executive John-Mark McCafferty.
"Their justification was, 'as you can appreciate there is high demand in this area for property to let and we are streamlining the application process'."
"There is a high bar there in terms of the information being sought and obvious data protection concerns, but there is also a sense there is a high social bar being imposed by some agents to view a property."