7 Flinders J. L. Reform 27 (2003-2004)
Tenant Lists, Tenant Risks: Rental Databases and Housing Policy in Australia

handle is hein.journals/flinlj7 and id is 41 raw text is: TENANT LISTS, TENANT RISKS:
RENTAL DATABASES AND HOUSING
POLICY IN AUSTRALIA
TIM SEELIGt
I     INTRODUCTION
Rental or tenancy databases (the terms will be used interchangeably here) are a
relatively new phenomenon in the Australian private rental market, but there are
signs that they may have a dramatic impact on the housing opportunities for many
renters. During the last decade, tenancy databases in the private rental market have
received growing attention in the rental community, particularly in Queensland
(Seelig 1997, 1998; The Age 1997; Gregory 2001). These databases keep records
about large numbers of tenants, and are designed to assist estate agents and
property managers to screen out prospective tenants with poor rental histories.
As the private sector is expected to play a greater role in providing long term
housing for low-income consumers' households (Dalton and Maher 1996; Wulff
1997; ACOSS 1998), the issue of tenant databases is likely to have mounting
significance for housing policy. This paper seeks to provide an opportunity to
undertake critical reflection on some of the key issues concerning rental databases,
and the prospects for further research into their activities and effects.
A number of issues relating to the existence and operation of rental or tenancy
databases are examined. These include what tenant databases are and how they
operate, a discussion of some possible problems arising from them and the social
consequences that might ensue from their operation. Contemporary events in
Queensland are used to highlight many of these issues, although most of them will
no doubt apply nationally. The paper aims to emphasise the need to look beyond
issues of privacy and operational regulation, and to move towards conceptualising
the issues vis-A-vis housing and social policy.
The paper draws heavily on past and new research into private rental housing
issues in Queensland which has incorporated tenant databases and the broader
private rental market (Seelig 1997, forthcoming). The Queensland Department of
Housing's recent work with the Queensland AHURI Research Centre in
t   Tim Seelig is the Senior Research Officer in the Housing Policy and Research Section of the
Queensland Department of Housing. He has also just completed his PhD Thesis on the political
economy of private rental housing in Brisbane. The views and opinions expressed in this paper
are those of the author, and do not necessary represent the views of the Queensland
Department of Housing.

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