Tenancy databases explained
Tenancy databases, also referred to as ‘blacklists’ or ‘bad tenant databases’, contain information about the renting history of certain tenants.
A landlord or estate agent can pay a membership fee to access a database when choosing a tenant. As a member, they can use a database to:
- search for and screen prospective tenants
- list previous tenants.
See new renting rules for the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Notifying prospective tenants about databases
When prospective tenants apply to rent a property, a landlord or estate agent must:
- advise them that they subscribe to a tenancy database (where that is the case)
- provide the contact details of the database operator.
These details must be in writing and should be included with the Residential tenancy application (Word, 752KB).
If a landlord or estate agent finds details of a prospective tenant on a database, they must advise the tenant in writing, within seven days:
- the name of the database and the person who listed the information
- that the tenant’s information is held in the database
- how the tenant can check, change or remove the listing (that is, by contacting the person who listed them).
Significant penalties apply for not advising prospective tenants about databases.
Listing tenants on a database
A landlord or estate agent can only list a tenant on a tenancy database if:
- the tenant was named on the tenancy agreement
- the agreement has ended and
- they breached the agreement and because of the breach, either:
- they owe an amount more than the bond and the VCAT has made an order that they pay that amount; or
- VCAT has made a possession order.
This only applies to the following breaches of the tenancy agreement:
- maliciously damaging a rental property
- endangering neighbours’ safety
- not paying rent
- failing to comply with a VCAT order
- using a rental property for illegal purposes
- sub-letting a rental property without the consent of the landlord or estate agent.
Before listing a tenant on a database, the landlord or estate agent (or the database operator) must notify the tenant in writing, and provide them with 14 days to object.
Updating or removing listings
Listings more than three years old must be removed from a database.
If a tenant was listed for owing more than the bond and that amount was paid:
- within three months, the information is ‘out of date’ and must be removed from the database
- more than three months after it was due, the information is ‘inaccurate’. It must be corrected to show the payment amount and date, and may be kept on the database for three years from the date of listing.
If a landlord or estate agent becomes aware that information listed is inaccurate or out of date, they must notify the database operator within seven days. The operator must then change or remove the listing within 14 days.
Tenants who discover an inaccurate or out-of-date listing should ask the person who made the listing to notify the database operator of the required change. Database operators only have to correct or remove a listing when asked by a landlord or agent (not a tenant).
If this is unsuccessful, tenants may apply to VCAT to have the listing changed or removed.
Renting information is also available in other languages.