Landlords break privacy rules on income data

In the last few weeks, landlords have broken the privacy rules of their tenants by asking and receiving their clients' income details from the Tax Administration Authority. This, according to renters' organization Woonbond, the Volkskrant reports.

Since last year, landlords are allowed to enforce a rent hike for social housing that is dependent on people's incomes. For this reason, the Tax Administration may give income details to the landlords under strict condition that they do not ask for information about the residents of private sector hosing, with rent above €681.

According to Woonbond, however, around 20 tenants have complained about landlords who did get their hands on that information.

A spokesperson for Woonbond this is just the "tip of the iceberg." The spokesperson believes that only a small section of renters will be angry when their income data is shared by the Tax Administration, and those who do find something wrong with it will only come and officially complain in limited numbers. "In his letter, the exchequer calls on tenants to complain with the landlord."

Syntrus Achmea was forced to pen a letter of apology after it was revealed that it had requested the details of 7000 renters. Woonbond received complaints about Achmea as well as six other complaints about big private landlords and nine housing corporations.

Kees Verhoeven, MP for the D66 finds these complaints very alarming. "Landlords can say that they are accidents, but if they act in bad faith, they they can still misuse this information."

Verhoeven emphasizes that the regulation was meant for social housing because in public sector housing, landlords can hike the rent up as much as they want, in principle. "When they know how much their tenants make, they can decide to hike the rents up a little more."

Laurens Miserus of Vastgoed Belang, the association of private landlords, is not altogether impressed by the number of complaints yet, relative to the 4000 accounts that were opened with the Tax Administration, but does say if these mistakes were made on purpose then sanctions may have to be imposed.

Under the social housing regulation that lets landlords raise the rent dependent on income, tenants who earn up to €33.6 thousand a year get a 1.5 percent rent raise above inflation. This is 2 percent on incomes between 33.6 and 43.6 thousand. Landlords may ask the Tax Administration which category their tenants fall into.