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Privacy Law and Policy Reporter (PLPR)
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Greenleaf, Graham --- "Complaints: NZ real estate agents" [1995] PrivLawPRpr 97; (1995) 2(8) Privacy Law & Policy Reporter 150

Complaints: NZ real estate agents

Graham Greenleaf

Home Alone? (I)

Privacy Commissioner (NZ), Case Note 3526, November 1995

Disclosure in real estate advertisement - IPP 11

'An advertisement was placed by a real estate agency in a daily newspaper to publicise its success in achieving property sales and to thank its clients for using their services. The complainants, who had purchased a property together, objected to this unauthorised publication of their names as buyers of a property. They found the publication of their names distressing. They said the advertisement had caused considerable embarrassment as family, friends and work colleagues learned that they had bought a property jointly, after they had chosen not to tell anyone of the purchase.'

The Commissioner 'considered the publication of their names as buyers was a disclosure of personal information which had resulted in significant humiliation of the complainants. None of the exceptions to information privacy principle applied. The disclosure was, in my opinion, an interference with their privacy. Upon the notification of my opinion, the case was resolved to the satisfaction of the complainants.'

Edited from Commissioner's Case Notes

Home Alone? (II)

Privacy Commissioner (NZ), Case Note 5412, November 1995

Collection of personal information - IPP4(a) - real estate agents taking photographs while unlawfully on tenant's premises - s 48 Residential Tenancies Act 1986 (NZ) - no compensation - s 79 Privacy Act

A real estate agent's employee entered the complainant's flat and took photographs. The real estate agent said the photographs were taken to support an allegation of a breach of the Residential Tenancies Act, but it was never taken to the Tenancy Tribunal. The photographs were then used in proceedings before the Tenancy Tribunal in a later, allegedly unconnected, dispute.

The agent had not complied with the requirements of s 48 of the Residential Tenancies Act and had therefore entered the premises unlawfully. In the Commissioner's opinion taking the photographs in these circumstances was a collection of information by means which were unlawful.

The Commissioner found that the real estate agent had breached IPP 4 which provides that personal information must not be collected by unlawful means. 'The complainant had suffered significant humiliation as a result of the agent's action', which amounted to an interference with the complainant's privacy. The respondent was invited to make a financial settlement, but declined to do so. Section 79 does not allow breaches of principle 4 to be taken to the Complaints Review Tribunal during the transitional phase of the Act (to 30 June 1996).

Edited from Commissioner's Case Notes

Home Alone? (III)

Privacy Commissioner (NZ), Case Note 54824, November 1995

Disclosure in real estate circular - IPP 11 - no compensation - s 79 Privacy Act

The complainant told a real estate agency how much she was prepared to pay to buy a property in a certain area. Without authorisation, the agent distributed a circular to houses in the area disclosing the complainant's name, wish to buy, and her ceiling price.

The agency accepted that this was in breach of IPP 11, apologised, advised staff and said they would improve staff training. The complainant was not satisfied, saying she was embarrassed as some people who lived in the area knew her. She also believed that the disclosure of the amount she was prepared to pay had adversely affected her bargaining power. She sought monetary compensation.

The Commissioner considered that there had been an interference with privacy and informed the parties. However, the real estate agency could not be persuaded to offer a financial settlement. There was no further action the Commissioner could take, due to s 79 (see above complaint).

Edited from Commissioner's Case Notes


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