What you should know before checking
Most renters are not listed
There is no reason to check a database unless you have reason to believe that you might be listed – for example, if a rental provider has threatened to ‘blacklist’ you. Remember there are only two reasons that you can be listed. See the section headed ‘When you can be listed’ on this page.
Rental providers must tell you if you are listed
You have the right to know if you are listed on a database and rental providers have a duty to tell you.
If your application for a rental property is rejected and you are not told why, you can send a written request to the rental provider asking if they checked any databases, if so which ones, and if they found any listings with information about you. The rental provider must tell you if they find a listing about you [section 439D].
And if a rental provider or database operator (company) wants to blacklist you, they should give you a copy of the information to be listed [section 439F]. See the sections headed ‘Assessing rental applications’ and ‘What must happen before being listed’ on this page.
There are many database companies
There is not just one database that you can check. There are different database companies that have different information.
If you do not know which database company your rental provider uses, you might waste your time and money checking the wrong one.
You might have to pay a fee
The rental provider or database company cannot ask you to pay a fee if this is the first time, or the first time in the last 12 months, they have given you information listed about you [section 439I(4)(c)].
However, you can be asked to pay a fee for any other times you ask to be given a copy of any information listed about you. But the fee cannot be ‘excessive’ [section 439I].
Some database companies provide the information for free, but ask for a lot of your personal information before they give you any information.
Database companies want a lot of your personal details
Most database companies will ask you to give them much more information than they end up giving you.
They often ask for a lot of personal details such as your date of birth, driver’s licence, Medicare or passport number, rental history, employment history and credit card information.
While it may be reasonable to request some identifying information, you do not need give any information you are uncomfortable providing.
Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, all you need to do is ask for a copy of the listing in writing and – if requested and if it is not the first time you have asked for the information – pay a fee, which is not allowed to be excessive [section 439I]. The information should then be given to you within 14 days [section 439I].
Some database companies are also debt collectors
Be aware that some database companies are also debt collectors. They may ask for your current address and use this for the purpose of debt collecting.
How to check
We recommend taking these steps.
Read the section headed ‘What you should know before checking’ on this page.
Send a written request to the rental provider, asking which databases they use and if there are any listings about you. You can send this request to any rental provider that you think has listed you. Or you can send this request to any rental provider that has rejected your rental application. Or you can send to both.
If you have no luck getting any information from the rental provider, and you still think you are listed, you can send a written request to a database company to check if you are listed. Before you do, it will help if you find out which database companies the rental provider uses.
The rental provider or database company that listed you must give you a copy of any information listed about you within 14 days of receiving your written request [section 439I]. The rental provider that has rejected your rental application must tell you in writing if they find any listings with information about you [section 439D]. See the sections on this page headed ‘Assessing rental applications’ and ‘What must happen before being listed’.