The details of 12,000 buy to let landlords - posted online by a council following a Freedom of Information request - appear to have been removed pending an investigation.
As of yesterday evening the details, which had been placed on the WhatDoTheyKnow.com website, had been removed.
This appears to have happened following an approach to the council by the Residential Landlords‘ Association, which says it first knew on Friday of last week about the release of the data by Reigate and Banstead borough council.
The authority had released the details following a FOI request from someone called Steven Barron, whose approach to the council is also set out on the WhatDoTheyKnow site. His letter reads: “Dear Reigate and Banstead Borough Council, I’m looking to get information on landlords with properties in Reigate & Banstead, we are looking to buy properties from sellers in this location. I require name/address and contact number of these landlords. Yours faithfully, Steven Barron.”
The website initally posted the details - all 12,000 of them - but they have now been removed and replaced with the wording: “This message has been hidden. Potential accidental bulk release of personal information - removed from public view while we consider and investigate. Please contact us if you have any questions.”
A statement posted on the Residential Landlords’ Association’s website says that as soon as it knew of the release of the details “we acted immediately to ensure this breach of personal details was investigated and removed.”
The RLA statement continues: “We raised our serious concerns over the data breach and which in our belief was a breach of the Data Protection Act. Because of our actions the council have subsequently removed the data from the public domain.”
The association says the incident highlights the amount of data councils collect on landlords, mostly through council tax records. The RLA says this shows “that licensing is not needed for councils to identify landlords. Councils need to utilise the data and powers they already have to tackle criminal landlords in their areas, rather than penalising good, hard working landlords that provide high quality housing.”