Who knows where you live?: Privacy as part of an owners corporation

Private envelopes

What is your entitlement to privacy as part of an Owners Corporation? Do other lot owners have a right to inspect the strata roll and view details for all lots, including names and addresses for service of all other lot owners?

Clients regularly tell us they have been denied access to the full strata roll when they conducted a search under section 108 of the Strata Schemes Management Act 1996 (NSW) (the Act). What many people (including strata managers) don’t know is that the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) (Privacy Act) does not necessarily prevent eligible people from obtaining access to, and a copy of, the strata roll.

This is despite the requirements of the Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy Principles (APP) created under the Privacy Act. The APP, which were formerly known as the National Privacy Principles (NPP), regulate how information is collected, held and disclosed and corrected.

Why?

Although it is yet to be decided by a higher authority there are two Tribunal decisions to the effect that the APP (then the NPP) do not supersede provisions of the Actthat correspond to section 108.

As it is a requirement under section 98 of the Actto provide your name and address for service of levy notices within Australia (amongst other things) to the Owners Corporation this means that other lot owners who make a request in writing pursuant to section 108 of the Act and pay the prescribed fee can access your name and address for service.

Call to action

Privacy is important. To protect your privacy as much as possible, you should seek advice on whether your Owners Corporation or strata manager is subject to the APP. If so, you should check whether they comply with the requirements of the APP. Kerin Benson Lawyers can assist you with this.

What should I do to comply with the APP and ensure my privacy is protected?

  1. Ensure only the required information is collected;
  2. Check with your strata managing agent that they:
    • have an up to date privacy policy;
    • have procedures in place to collect, disclose and manage information and ensure it is accurate including procedures to ensure information security;
    • ensure that their procedures are being adhered to; and that they
    • only collect information that is required.

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