Telltale landlords keep notes on tenants

Telltale landlords keep notes on tenants
Municipal landlords in western Sweden have been keeping notes on tenants' lifestyles and habits, with some annotations potentially in breach of Sweden's privacy laws.

Sveriges Television reported on Tuesday that several housing companies owned by local municipalities were keeping tabs on their tenants. Annotations usually contained information about the residents’ health – for example, the simple “has MS” – but several pieces of information appeared to be nothing more than the ramblings of tattletales. “According to a neighbour, she recognizes the faces of known drug addicts,” one note read.

Since 2006, all rental companies owned by Sweden’s municipalities (allmännyttiga bolag) signed an agreement in which it was clearly outlined what kind of information they were allowed to keep on file – with the express purpose of respecting the tenants’ integrity.

Despite this, SVT reported that several annotations unearthed this week seemed to breach the 2006 deal.

Several of the companies responded that the files were “a mistake” and that in many cases the tenants themselves had offered them information to be registered.

“This sounds a warning bell and is something we need to tackle and look into,” Sigtunahem CEO Kicki Björklund told SVT.

It is not the first time a municipal housing company has run into problems for its overzealous note-keeping. In the summer of 2012, the Swedish Data Inspectorate (Datainspektionen) ruled that four companies in Gothenburg were in breach of the country’s laws on privacy and data protection. The ensuing police inquiry, however, was eventually closed.

TT/The Local/at

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