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So what’s this ICO malarkey then?

In May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into play and suddenly everyone cared about the ICO - but who are they and what does it mean to me as a landlord?

In May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into play and since then landlords and businesses alike have been more and more aware of their responsibilities in regards to storing and using customer data.


As a landlords, your customers are your tenants and therefore, GDPR was something noteworthy.


But what’s that got to do with the ICO? 


The ICO in their own words arethe UK’s independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals”. In short, they are the public body responsible for enforcing the GDPR regulations.


So what does this mean for me? 


As a landlord, you should most likely already be registered with the ICO. The Data Protection Act 2018 states that if you process a customers personal information you are required to pay a data protection fee to the ICO. In most cases, this will be £40 per annum.


This is a legal requirement, and organisations which fail to adhere can face fines of up to £4,000.


Do I have to pay it?


Yep! 


It is a legal requirement that any organisation which processes personal information is required to pay the Data Protection Fee.


‘Processing’ information is obtaining, recording, storing or updating personal information. Even if this is just via email.


‘Personal information’ is any detail about an individual that can be used on its own or with other data to identify them. Therefore, if at any time you receive or store the details of one of your tenants, you are eligible to pay the Data Protection Fee. 


Surely there are exemptions? 


Yes - there are some - but in most cases they won’t pertain to landlords.


There is a common misconception that only landlords that have decided to incorporate and become Ltd companies are eligible for the fee - this is a misnomer.


The only difference is the way that the ICO contact you. If you are a Ltd Company, the ICO will get in touch with you directly as a matter of course. If you are a sole trader then the responsibility falls on you to be aware of your obligations and to pay the ICO the Data Protection Fee.


Now we have got that out of the way, there are some exemptions from paying the fee. The most pertinent for landlords being that if you process personal information physically rather than digitally then you are indeed exempt. However, before you get too excited, if any information you have has been acquired over email - even if then printed out and stored - has still been “processed digitally”.  


So - get registered - pay the fee - store your certificate in Ark Compliance - stop worrying!