Tenants asked to provide social media links as Privacy Commissioner warns against collecting unnecessary details

Rocketing rents and a highly competitive rental market mean some desperate tenants are willing to comply with requests for personal information just to get their foot in the door.

Many are handing over links to social media accounts in the hopes of securing a place. 

Polly Reardon was asked for a number of links to her social media accounts while flat hunting including Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.

She felt obligated to provide her Facebook.

"I'd prefer if they didn't but I need a home so yeah." 

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards says landlords shouldn't be asking for details and links to prospective tenants' social media accounts.

"If you don't need it, you shouldn't be collecting it," he says.  

Newshub has seen three different forms asking prospective tenants for personal details, including whether they have hobbies that create a lot of noise.

Two forms included an 'optional' request for links to social media accounts.

Under guidelines released by the Privacy Commissioner, landlords can ask for proof of identity, contact information, consent for a credit or criminal record report, and information about pets and smokers.

They shouldn't collect information about nationality, ethnicity, personal beliefs, expenses, or social media. 

But landlord Leeann Mitchell stands by her social media checks of prospective tenants. 

"It's really important to get some better information about someone where the information you get at the time of application is scant." 

The Privacy Commissioner will decide whether to launch a full investigation of the rental sector's privacy practices over the next few weeks.