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The Privacy Commission is cracking down on property managers and landlords breaching the Privacy Act.
Renters groups call the industry a 'wild west' with little regulation or oversight for how property managers and landlords conduct their business.
Renters United spokesperson Ashok Jacob told Nine to Noon landlords and property managers were doing what they thought they could get away with.
Tenants were being asked to provide information on their race, gender, sexual orientation, political affiliations and whether they intended to have children.
Some landlords and property managers requests were questionable when it came to privacy law, he said.
"New Zealand is uniquely unregulated when it comes to the rental market and so there's this real culture of property managers and landlords just doing what they think they won't get caught doing, no matter whether or not it's legal."
The Privacy Commission would start taking enforcement action against errant landlords and property managers from March as part of a crackdown on Privacy Act breaches.
Renters United had assisted the commission by passing on reports it had received of tenants being asked to provide invasive information.
Deputy Privacy Commissioner Liz MacPherson said the commission had worked with landlords and renters advocates to improve the situation, which had some effect.
But it was clear there had been too much information gathered in the past, she said.
Those who continued to flout the law could face a fine of up to $10,000.
"With the imbalance of power in the market at the moment caused by supply and demand issues, tenants don't tend to complain to us," MacPherson said.
"So proactively from 1 March we'll be looking at tenancy application forms to make sure they're compliant with the Privacy Act, we'll be looking at tenancy agreement forms to make sure they're compliant, and we'll also be looking at privacy policies and statements that landlords and property management companies have and we'll be looking at their websites.
"We'll be starting at the big end of town, but we'll also look at some smaller landlords as well."
Information protected by the Human Rights Act such as pregnancy, family status, pregnancy, ethnicity, political opinion, employment status, sexual orientation, gender identity, a tenant's spending habits, their social media url, or whether has experienced family violence could not be collected, MacPherson said.
She encouraged tenants with concerns or complaints to contact the Privacy Commission.