Privacy & Data Protection
Protecting your data... keeping your confidence.
When you provide us with your personal data, we take your confidentiality very seriously. We promise to keep your information up-to-date and completely secure. Rest assured, we’ll only save your personal data as long as is necessary, and then safely dispose of old records, in line with our policies. Your trust is important to us; we wouldn’t dream of losing it.
Easing Your Worries
By law, we must retain some records for an extended period of time, such as housing benefit payments. So bear this in mind, if you have any concerns about how long we keep your data for.
We understand that handing over personal information isn’t always an easy thing to do, so please be reassured that we’ll only ever collect data that’s absolutely necessary for the services we provide to you. For example, we may ask for details about your previous landlords and your individual needs as a tenant, but we won’t ask you what your favourite pudding is!
Your data will be under lock and key whether we hold it electronically or in a paper file – only staff who need it will be allowed access to your information, for business and monitoring purposes. Additionally, we refuse to sell your details to profiteering companies – your data is safe with us.
Under the Data Protection Act, you can ask to see all the personal information an organisation holds about you, this is called a subject access request. Requesting this material does mean you’ll have to pay a fee (£10 usually), but the company must comply within 40 days.
This can cover anything from electronic files to photographs and call recordings. It is possible to stop someone from holding and using your personal data, if you can prove that it would harm or distress you.
Fighting Against Sales Tactics
When it comes to direct marketing through your personal information (selling products or services through the phone, email, or letters), you can immediately stop this by asking the organisation to take your details off their records. We will not pass your details to third parties who we think may do this, and we will only carry out direct marketing of our own products and services where they are relevant to your tenancy.
If a company breaches your rights, you can claim for compensation if it has caused you any damage or distress
In the event that a company holds false or inaccurate information about you, you can request the company for rectification or deletion of these details and they must make the requested changes to any factual inaccuracies (if you disagree with an opinion held about you, they should note your disagreement but don’t have to change their records). If you feel that an organisation hasn’t acted lawfully under the Data Protection Act, you can ask the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) to investigate the matter. ICO is an independent authority that gives the public guidance and advice on data protection.
Seeing Your Information
Of course, we’ll be happy to show you the personal details we hold about you, if you are interested or have any concerns – as mentioned above, it’s called a ‘subject access request,’ and we charge a £10 fee. We charge this because it does take time to retrieve, review and copy the information for each request.
- Under the Data Protection Act, you’re entitled to see all information unless:
- it could affect the detection or prevention of a crime; or
- it could affect the prosecution of offenders; or
- impeach the assessment or collection of taxes; or
- if the details include comments from or about a third party who hasn’t given their permission to disclose the information.
- Where third party data is involved, we’ll assess whether it’s reasonable or fair to provide you with the data and if we come to the conclusion that it’s not reasonable to give it to you then we’ll tell you why.
Please note that certain manual filing systems are also exempt from the Data Protection Act, for example if a file is not ordered and indexed to allow us to find someone’s personal data, we would not have to include it in a subject access request.
Freedom Of Information Act
All public bodies are subject to the Freedom of Information Act. This means you’re entitled to request certain details from them.
Your Housing Group (YHG) isn’t a public body for the purposes of this Act, so we’re exempt from the requirements, but regardless we’ll still consider particular information requests and help you if we can – just get in touch!
Sharing Your Information With Others
Occasionally, we’ll need to share your information with other organisations. Usually this is because we have a legal obligation to do so, however, your details will also be forwarded on to utility companies to ensure that you’re comfortably supplied with energy and resources in your home.
In the event that you are in arrears and leave without paying or arranging to pay, we’ll be forced to share your details with a debt collection agency to recover our money – we consider this a last resort and will make every effort to contact you through other methods to arrange payment before using an agency.
With the wear and tear of years, your property will eventually need repairs. To ensure that you’re safe and comfortable in your home, we’ll share some details with a contractor, so he or she can contact you directly to arrange a suitable appointment for repairs. Whenever we outsource work, we’ll always make sure that external organisations keep your data as safely as we do.
Those who receive housing benefit may have their information passed on to the local council, if their circumstances change.
Very rarely, it’s necessary to provide your details to the police, where there has been a case of criminal activity or a breach of your tenancy agreement.
We appreciate that our tenants do sometimes leave us for new homes and broader horizons. In this case, we might be contacted by your new letting agent for a reference so we may provide some of your details to them. If you haven’t already given your consent for us to do this, then we will ask for it.
The Eight Principles Of Data Protection
We will process all the personal data we collect from you in line with the eight principles of the Data Protection Act. We follow these principles to the letter because we believe we have a moral as well as a legal duty to do so.
Data must be:
- fairly and lawfully processed
- processed for limited purposes
- adequate, relevant and not excessive
- not kept for longer than necessary
- processed in line with your rights
- kept secure
- not transferred to other countries without adequate protection
We hope that you’re thoroughly convinced by now; with YHG, your personal information is in safe hands.