The use of Property Data in QLD (QVAS)
As a subscriber of Pricefinder (Australian Property Monitors Pty Ltd) it is imperative that the terms and conditions regarding the use of data provided under licence from the State of Queensland (Department of Environment & Resource Management) are acknowledged and understood by all Pricefinder (and all Data Broker) subscribers.
These Terms & Conditions are standard across all providers of this information including our other competitors and ourselves and they exist to ensure the privacy of individuals.
The Personal Identification Information in Property Data Code of Conduct requires us (as a Data Broker) to ensure our customers comply with the Code when accessing our databases. In particular, the Code prohibits the use of personal identification information for direct marketing.
What is QVAS?
The Queensland Valuation and Sales System (QVAS) is the database used by the Queensland Government’s Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM). It is used for the storage, update and retrieval of property and sales information and associated valuations.
The database contains the following information:
- Details of the property, including the street address
- Transaction details (e.g. purchase price and type of sale); and
- Relevant details, i.e. names and service addresses of the vendors and purchasers.
Who can access this information?
Individuals - Individual businesses, professionals and members of the public can request access to individual QVAS records over the counter for a fee. This will typically include potential purchasers and professionals acting in property transactions, for example, solicitors and valuers.
Licensed information brokers - A number of information brokers have been granted access to bulk data from QVAS. This is in the form of a licence agreement obtained through DNRM.
Information broker end clients - A number of brokers’ clients also access QVAS data through products distributed by the information brokers. These products include additional data added by the information brokers from other sources. These may include photos of the property or a map of the property location. In these instances, clients include real estate agents, valuation agents, surveyors, financial institutions and members of the public.
QVAS Code of Conduct Background
In order to ensure a high degree of privacy protection is maintained for consumers whose data is held in QVAS database, information brokers who wish to gain bulk access to QVAS Identified Information (names and service addresses) in the database have agreed to abide by a Code of Conduct. The QVAS Code of Conduct was developed by the information brokers and DNRM and came into operation in October 2009.
The Queensland Government provides Code Subscribers (approved licensed information brokers) with access to QVAS name and address data on the condition that it is not used for direct marketing. This condition was imposed in response to property owners’ concerns that personal information could be used for direct marketing and that the government should restrict use of name and address data to protect privacy. In response to these concerns, the information broking industry and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, in consultation with consumer groups, developed the Code of Conduct for the use of QVAS data.
Prohibition on direct marketing
Under the Code of Conduct, the use of personal identification information (names and service addresses) for unsolicited direct marketing by mail, telephone or other means is strictly prohibited.
The Queensland Government provides Code Subscribers (approved licensed information brokers) with access to QVAS name and address data on the condition that it is not used for direct marketing. This condition was imposed in response to property owners’ concerns that personal information could be used for direct marketing and that the government should restrict use of name and address data to protect privacy. In response to these concerns, the information broking industry and the Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines, in consultation with consumer groups, developed the Code of Conduct for the use of QVAS data. The Code prohibits the use of personal identification information (names and or service addresses) in the QVAS data for unsolicited direct marketing by mail, telephone or other means.
Some Examples of Incorrect use of Property Data (sourced from QVAS)
Using the data to filter contact lists to separate likely owner-occupiers from investors owned properties
Example: A real estate agent had drawn up a list of the addresses of units within a single complex containing over 30 units based on their knowledge of the complex. They used the QVAS data to filter out units which appeared more likely to be owned by investors because the service address was different to the property address. Direct marketing letters were then sent to ‘The Home Owner’ at each of the selected address.
Use of QVAS name and or service address data for unsolicited direct marketing is prohibited
The use of QVAS data for direct marketing or with the intention of encroaching upon the privacy of a consumer is prohibited. It is a breach in the code and terms and conditions of Pricefinder if this information is used directly or indirectly for unsolicited direct marketing purposes whether by mail or other means.
Some specific examples (not limited to):
“One of our agents has just joined us and they brought their mailing list with them.”
The agency is responsible for ensuring that the source of the data being used is not QVAS name and address data. If the new agent has a mailing list which has been compiled with downloaded QVAS data it is ‘tainted’ and the QVAS based content cannot be used for direct marketing.
“I was told it was OK to use the address from QVAS if I just put “To the Home Owner” on the envelope instead of the name.”
No – the use of the property address, if it has been sourced from QVAS name and address data, would be a breach of the Code. The prohibition applies to both the name and the service address of the property owner.
“We have lists of people who have visited our Open Inspections. The details came from those lists.”
If a data user/agent claims the source of the name and address data used for direct marketing came from Open Inspection registers then they should be able to provide a copy of the register as evidence. The names and addresses on the Open Inspection register and the names and addresses on the marketing material (envelope and letter) should be carefully compared. The complainant will be able to confirm or dispute whether or not they attended the Open Inspection as claimed by the data user.
Complaint Investigation Obligations - As a Code Subscriber and Code Subscriber Customer
As a licensed broker of Queensland Property Information provided under licence from the State of Queensland, we are obliged to follow up any potential breach or complaints made to our organisation. Following an investigation into each matter, if it is determined that QVAS data (owners names and owners addresses) has been used in any of the above mentioned ways, it will be considered a breach in the code and sanctions will issued as per the code.
The Customer must assist Pricefinder and the QVAS Code Oversight Committee with any investigation into to a suspected breach of the General Terms and Conditions and/or these Special Terms. The Customer acknowledges that any refusal to cooperate in any such investigation may result in the Customer being added to the Register of Excluded Parties.
Possible sanctions if a breach is found:
(a) suspend or terminate the Customer’s access to the Pricefinder services
(b) require the Customer to remove QVAS Identified Information from its data or any database;
(c) require the Customer to apologise to any party affected by the breach;
(d) require the Customer to undertake privacy training and /or Code of Conduct training; and
(e) require the Customer undertake remedial action including, but not limited to, changes to documentation, changes to business processes and / or corrective advertising.
A breach also constitutes a breach of data customer’s contract with their Code Subscribers as their data providers; and the Code Oversight Committee may impose a sanction for serious or repeated breaches.
- Data customers may be listed on the Code’s Register of Excluded Parties for a prescribed period, which prevents all Subscribers from supplying QVAS personal identification information to that customer while they remain on the Register.