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Alberta Privacy Commissioner Investigating Do Not Rent List Complaint

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Alberta’s privacy watchdog is investigating a landlord who allegedly posted a tenant’s private information on social media.

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According to Alberta’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC), a person filed a complaint on Monday that appears to be related to Postmedia reporting of hundreds of Edmontonians named in lists. to “do not rent” by local landlords on Facebook. Public Interest Alberta (PIA) Advocacy Group asked the ICPO to investigate the tenant blacklists himself the same day.

“We received Public Interest Alberta’s general request for investigation into the practice of landlords sharing personal information about tenants on social media. We will review PIA’s request and respond directly,” spokesperson Scott Sibbald wrote in an email Tuesday.

“We also received a privacy complaint from an individual who alleges that their owner posted information about them online in violation of the (Alberta Privacy Act) . We review or investigate all privacy complaints. »

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Postmedia discovered two tenant listings hosted in local landlord Facebook groups. The first list, which was still available on Tuesday in the newly renamed group “Landlord Exchange—Tenant Experiences—Edmonton and Area, includes more than 440 names of allegedly bad tenants most of which do not include any justification. Members of the Facebook group continued to comment on a main post asking for names to be added in recent days.

A second list of over 470 names was found in a second group, now deleted. A third Facebook group, Alberta Owners Communityhas been used to post information about tenants or potential tenants, but does not include a dedicated listing.

Some landlords have argued that a database is necessary to prevent tenants from causing significant property damage or owing rent.

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Renter blacklists are ‘probably illegal’ because they may violate Alberta’s privacy law, Sibbald said. These laws govern how information is collected, stored and shared, whether there is consent and whether the information is used reasonably, according to the OIPC.

The OIPC did not release the name of the complainant or the owner. The bureau’s findings are only made public if the agency conducts an investigation and issues an order.

‘Public interest’

PIA spokesman Bradley Lafortune urged the OIPC to investigate, saying it was in the public interest to do so.

“I think it’s pretty clear that people’s private information is being shared without their consent and can have long-term impacts on people’s efforts to find housing,” he said in an interview.

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Lafortune argues that Alberta’s Residential Tenancy Act also needs reform: “We are concerned about housing security and believe there should be a serious review of rent control and the regulation of rent increases, as well as bans on expulsion as well.

In an email, Alberta NDP seniors and housing critic Lori Sigurdson urged the province to step in to end blacklisting that ‘undermines people’s right to access to housing”. Alberta has a shortage of affordable housing, she said, and needs to work with the federal government to get more.

“Whether you live in an apartment, house, basement suite, or townhouse, the rent should be affordable and the home secure,” she wrote. “Much more needs to be done to support tenants in Alberta, and we are committed to making the changes necessary to achieve this.”

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Brett Farrell, press secretary for Service Alberta Minister Nate Glubish, encouraged homeowners to review their obligation of confidentiality on the OIPC website, and for tenants to use the Online tool Find accommodation. The Residential Tenancy Act is “fair and balanced for landlords and tenants” and Albertans can use the Residential Tenancy Dispute Resolution Servicehe said in an email.

Farrell encouraged landlords to protect themselves against costly damage using existing options and said renters and landlords can purchase insurance.

“Landlords may check the background, credit history and rental experience of a potential tenant by appropriate means, such as by contacting the references offered by the tenant or by researching the name of the potential tenant with the Court of Queen’s Bench to see previous judgments from RTDRS or provincial court,” he said in an email.

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@laurby

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