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Subject Access Request Problems


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Dear All

I made a request under the data projection act subject access report for all infomatiom to be sent to me relating to myself in any medium to my housing association landlord. I believe am entitled to a copy of the information.

My housing association has responded giving me a copy of their policy to invite me to view the record in the presence of the Area Housing Manager at their Head Office and that wherever possible photocopying facilities will be made available. I have had a quick but not detailed look at their policy document and it says that the Data Protection Act gives individuals the stautory right to see and check details about themselve that are held in the form of computerised data and that for tenants of local authorities this extends to manual records under the Acces to Personal File (Housing) Regulations 1989.

I do not know much about the data protection act, however, I was of the understanding that it allowed me to receive copies (ie photocopies) of all information in any form, be it emails, letters, internal memos etc.

I want to send them a letter saying very simply.

RE your letter.

The Data Protection Act works at a level above you own policies, please send me all information as per my request dated -- -- -- under the act as per my letter. If you require any further information on how to comply with my request I refer you to the Act. Please comply within the time period allocated under the act.



DOes anyone know where I stand please?

Any help greatly appreciated



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Without looking in any detail at the Act to check for any specific exclusions relating to Housing Associations, I think you are right. I have been in a similar situation with a health centre, who offered a patient the opportunity to see her record and photocopy it. I contacted the Information Commissioner, and was advised that this is inappropriate; the organisation to whom the request is made must produce the copies, within 40 days, and they must be legible - this includes providing a decode of any abbreviations used. Apart from anything else, the Data Protection Act allows the data controller to redact some information, and they clearly can't do this if they are allowing individuals to see the original records.


Some organisations try to avoid a proper S.A.R - (Subject Access Request) by saying that you can view/copy documents at no charge, suggesting that copies they provide will cost a lot. The maximum they can charge is £10 - they aren't obliged to charge anything.


Try something like:


Dear Sirs


I refer to the Subject Access Request I submitted to you on (date), and to your reply dated (date).


From your reply, it appears that you have misunderstood what I have asked for. The Data Protection Act 1998 requires you to provide me with legible copies of all data held in relevant filing systems. As you know, statute law takes precedence over your internal policies, and I would be grateful if you would therefore ensure that the data I have requested is provided within the statutory time limit.


If I do not receive the data within the statutory time limit, which ends on (date), I will make a formal complaint to the Information Commissioner.


Yours etc.


If they don't comply, make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office, who will usually write to them and tell them they must comply. Alternatively, if you get no data or more waffle, you can send a letter before action which will inform them that you will go to court for an order forcing them to disclose the data, and for damages at the court's discretion.

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If you look at the act s8:


(2) The obligation imposed by section 7(1)©(i) must be complied with by supplying the data subject with a copy of the information in permanent form unless—


the supply of such a copy is not possible or would involve disproportionate effort, or



the data subject agrees otherwise;


and where any of the information referred to in section 7(1)©(i) is expressed in terms which are not intelligible without explanation the copy must be accompanied by an explanation of those terms.




7(1)© reads:


to have communicated to him in an intelligible form—

(i) the information constituting any personal data of which that individual is the data subject, and

(ii) any information available to the data controller as to the source of those data, and

i will be off site for the next month or so. if you have any problems, feel free to report the post so a moderator can help you.


I am not a qualified or practicing lawyer.

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Thanks a lot people, its very kind of you to be of help. This is what I think so supports what I wanted to say.

ScarletPinpernel, thanks for the letter suggestion, it is very good, very much like one I had already drafted but better.

What a great communitty this is.

Regards and thanks,


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