Case Study 5 - Form of Authorisation in relation to applications under statutory housing schemes
I received a complaint from a member of the Dáil, who had concerns about the privacy implications of forms of authorisation which applicants for local authority housing were required to sign.
The forms enabled local authorities to undertake such investigations as they deemed necessary, in order to ascertain the bona fides of applicants housing circumstances, and applicants for local authority housing were required to indicate that they did not object to these enquiries.
My Office looked into this matter, and the position is that there is a statutory basis for making these enquiries, under section 15 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997. This provides that a local authority, for the purposes of its functions under the Housing Acts, may request and obtain information from the bodies listed therein, including the Gardaí, the Department of Social and Family Affairs, and housing authorities. I therefore had to inform the Deputy that, as the local authority’s action was explicitly provided for by law, no contravention of the Data Protection Acts was involved.
This case illustrates the importance of examining the privacy implications of legislative proposals before they are are published.
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