Phil Querin Q&A: Pictures of Prospective Tenants

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December 11, 2018
Phil Querin
MHCO Legal Counsel
Querin Law

 

Question:   We always ask for a picture of the prospective tenant and all occupants, their RV (if applying to our RV portion of the park), their pets, and the tow vehicle prior to looking at an application.  Is this legal?  If not, should I destroy all the pictures we have on file?  Is it ever legal to have pictures of residents etc. in the files?  Would it be better if we did it after the application was reviewed and accepted?

 

 

Answer:  First, I must ask what is the reason for photos of tenants and occupants? I suspect there may be a legitimate reason, but if you cannot explain it (other than “we’ve always done it that way”) you might consider discontinuing the practice. I do agree that it is premature to get pictures of prospective tenants, etc., until they have been accepted as tenants. Thereafter, if there is a legitimate reason for the information, you make take the pictures. A photograph consensually given, is not, in my opinion, illegal if it serves a legitimate business purpose.

 

Second, assuming there is a legitimate reason, my concern would be what happens to the photos thereafter. You might want to consider scanning and keeping the personal photographic information in a secure electronic storage, away from the risk of indiscriminate access. 

 

This same advice applies to any confidential consumer information (e.g. social security numbers) – keep it safely stored, as you could be held liable for the theft or abuse of this information.  When the tenancy has ended, photos and personal information should be destroyed.

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