Renter (tenant) databases

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Renter databases, also called ‘blacklists’ or ‘bad renter databases’, contain the renting history of some renters. Because renters used to be called tenants, renter databases might still be called tenant databases. 

A rental provider, previously known as a landlord, or an estate agent can pay a membership fee to use a database to: 

  • search for and screen prospective renters 
  • list previous renters. 

There are rules about how renter databases can be used, and renters have rights around their listing. 

On this page: 

 Other pages have information about rental provider registers and applying for a property

Telling prospective renters about databases  

Rental providers or real estate agents who use a renter database must disclose this to anyone who is applying to rent a property. They must do this in writing, and they should include the information with the Residential rental application (Word, 752KB) form. They should also include the contact details of the organisation that runs the database. 

If a rental provider or estate agent finds the details of someone who has applied to rent a property from them in a database, they must tell the renter: 

  • that their information is in the database 
  • what the information in the database is 
  • the name of the database and the person who listed the information  
  • how they can check, change or remove the listing – by contacting the person who listed them. 

The rental provider or estate agent must do this in writing within seven days. There are significant penalties for not telling people applying for rentals about databases. 

Listing renters on a database 

Before listing a renter on a database, the rental provider, real estate agent or the database operator must tell the renter in writing, and give them 14 days to object. A rental provider or real estate agent can only list a renter in a renter database if all of the following apply: 

  • the renter was named on the rental agreement (lease) 
  • the rental agreement has ended 
  • the renter breached the rental agreement or certain sections of the Act, and because of this they either owe more money than they paid as a bond or VCAT has issued a possession order.  

Reasons a renter can be listed on a database are limited to: 

  • causing serious damage to a rental property  
  • endangering the safety of neighbours, the rental provider, real estate agent or any person working for them  
  • not paying rent  
  • not complying with a VCAT order  
  • using a rental property for illegal purposes  
  • sub-letting a rental property without the permission of the rental provider or real estate agent 
  • breaking terms of the rental agreement.  

A renter's personal information must not be listed on the database if:

  • the renter breached a rental agreement because of an act of family or personal violence against them,
  • the renter has made an application to end the rental agreement due to family violence 
  • a notice to vacate that was issued to the renter was found to be invalid because of family violence or 
  • the renter has objected to the rental provider, their agent, or the database because the information relates to an act or a circumstance of family violence that they experienced and they have provided evidence to support the objection.  

If a renter objects to having their information included in the database, they must submit a written statement to their rental provider, estate agent or to the database operator stating that the information relates to an act or a circumstance of family violence or personal violence experienced by the renter, and include either: 

  • a copy of an extract of a relevant family violence intervention order, a family violence safety notice or recognised non-local DVO, or a personal safety intervention order that has been certified in accordance with Part 5 of the Oaths and Affirmations Act 2018; or  
  • any letter, report, written statement in relation to the alleged family or personal violence or other documentary materials from a person, organisation or entity below.  

The persons who can make a statement on a renter’s behalf are:  

  • support workers  
  • health professionals  
  • religious groups  
  • crisis accommodation providers  
  • the Department of Fairness, Families and Housing or Child Protection (previously called the Department of Health and Human Services)
  • Victoria Police  
  • the Australian Federal Police  
  • Australian State or territory police  
  • employees of schools and universities  
  • family and friends  
  • an employer  
  • a lawyer.  

If you find out that you have been listed inappropriately, you can ask the rental provider to remove the listing. You can also 

apply to VCAT to have the listing removed.  

Asking to see a renter listing 

A renter can ask their rental provider, agent or the database operator to give them a copy of their personal information in a rental database.   

The renter must be provided with their information within 14 days of asking for it.  

The details must be provided for free the first time a renter asks in any 12-month period. If they ask again within the 12-month period, a fee may be charged. The fee must not be excessive, and must only be for the renter to get a copy, not for lodging a request to access the information. 

Updating or removing renter listings 

Listings must be removed from databases after three years. 

If a renter was listed for owing more than the bond and they paid the amount within three months, the listing must be removed.  

If the renter took longer than three months to pay, the listing must be updated to show the money was paid, but the listing will remain for 3 years. 

If a rental provider or estate agent sees that information is wrong or out of date, they must tell the database operator within 7 days. The operator must then change or remove the listing within 14 days. 

Renters who find their listing is incorrect should ask the rental provider or agent who made the listing to tell the database operator of the change needed. Renters cannot ask database operators to change their listing. If the listing is not updated, the renter may apply to VCAT to have the listing changed or removed. 

If someone breached the rental agreement as a result of family or personal violence in which they were a victim, they cannot be listed on a database. They can apply to VCAT to order that their listing is removed. 

Sections of the Act 

If you want to know what the law says about renter databases, you can read these sections of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997

  • Part 10A – Residential tenancy databases.