Photographing and Filming Tenants’ Possessions for Advertising Purposes: Report

7. Conclusion

7.1 The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 (Vic) does not explicitly address the practice of entering a property to take advertising images that show tenants’ possessions. While some hold the view that a right to enter for this purpose is implicit in the RTA, others—including the Commission—disagree, arguing that landlords and agents can only enter for this purpose after obtaining tenant consent.

7.2 The need for legislative reform is clear. The absence of an express provision on this issue has enabled a range of practices to emerge, some of which have caused tenants distress and harm. The law has failed to keep pace with technology, including online advertising, the advent of which largely explains the prevalence of tenants’ concerns about privacy, risk of theft and risk of personal harm.

7.3 The reforms put forward by the Commission are designed to bring the law into line with the digital age while striking the right balance between the interests of landlords and tenants in relation to advertising images.

7.4 If implemented, the reforms would provide certainty for landlords by establishing a right to enter to take advertising images, as this right is fundamental to their capacity to sell or lease a property.

7.5 The reforms would also strengthen protections for tenants who have legitimate concerns about images that identify or reveal sensitive information about them, or that place them at risk of theft. Tenants at risk of family or personal violence should also be afforded protection, and the Commission recommends granting these tenants a broad right of objection to images that would reveal their identity, and thus their location, to those who pose the risk.

7.6 In addition to the formal protection afforded by the reforms, the Commission hopes they would encourage landlords, agents and tenants to negotiate mutually agreeable outcomes that address the needs of all concerned.