Can a landlord or property manager take photos during inspection?

Yes, they can. Landlords and property managers have a lawful purpose to collect information about a rental property when they carry out a property inspection. The Privacy Act says an agency should only collect information for a lawful purpose and the collection of that information has to be necessary for that purpose.

Taking photos is a useful way of documenting the state of a property in case a matter is disputed at a later date and it is common for photos to be used as part of the inspection report.

Where the property or the tenant is identifiable from the photos, landlords should be clear with the tenant about when the information can be collected and why (information privacy principle three). They should include this in the tenancy agreement and communicate this to the tenant right from the beginning. They also need to take care to store the images securely and only share the images for a purpose connected to the property inspection.

Note that information about a property can also be personal information about the occupier depending on the circumstances. The tenant has a right to request access to the photos that contain personal information.

More information for landlords and tenants is available on the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Tenancy Services website (external link) .