No justification for seeking proof of funds at property viewings, DPC says

Collection of financial statements from prospective buyers not necessary, watchdog says

The Data Protection Commissioner said “no more personal data than is necessary” should be collected by estate agents. Photograph: iStock

The Data Protection Commissioner said “no more personal data than is necessary” should be collected by estate agents. Photograph: iStock

 

There is no justification for estate agents to collect extensive personal data about prospective buyers who are viewing a property, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has said.

In newly-published guidance on the collection of personal data prior to viewing a property, the DPC said “no more personal data than is necessary” should be collected by estate agents.

The guidance comes after estate agent Savills asked people to disclose proof of how much they could afford to pay before allowing them to view properties at a new housing development in Dublin.

The personal data required for the purpose of arranging a viewing will be “significantly less than the personal data which may be necessary where an individual decides to progress to a more advanced stage of purchasing a property” such as placing an offer on a property, going sale agreed or concluding a purchase, the DPC said.

There was not any justification for the collection of information such as financial statements, proof of funds, utility bills or PPS numbers from people viewing homes.

‘Just in case’

“Personal data should not be collected on a ‘just in case’ basis for some undefined or undeclared future purpose,” the guidance stated.

Personal data should be collected only for “specified, explicit and legitimate purposes”.

When estate agents request personal data from viewers they then become “data controllers” under GDPR data-protection laws.

People whose data was collected for the purpose of viewing a property must be informed by such data controllers if their data will be used for any other purpose, such as an assessment of the individual’s financial standing, for analytical purposes or profiling of prospective buyers.