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Estate agents just aren't ready for GDPR legislation, lawyers warn

The UK estate agency and construction industries are not ready for the huge workload and responsibilities involved in the General Data Protection Regulation legislation coming into effect next May.

That’s the view of property law firm Collyer Bristow, which has surveyed 460 senior decision makers across a range of businesses in the UK, including 40 businesses from the real estate and construction sector.  

For agents, GDPR means that once a deal has been completed much of the original data may have to be disposed of. Agents will have to check with individuals if their data is to be kept for other purposes, such as marketing. 


“The GDPR makes a significant tightening of data protection compliance regulation and comes into force on 25 May 2018. It harmonises data protection rules across the European Union and applies to all organisations collecting personal data.  Real estate and construction businesses in the UK will have to comply, irrespective of our decision to leave the EU” says Patrick Wheeler, partner and head of intellectual property and data protection at Collyer Bristow. 

Its report, GDPR – The Clock is Ticking, found that understanding of and preparedness for the GDPR in the industries lags significantly behind other part of the economy. 

It found:

- some 35 per cent of firms in the agency and construction businesses have no awareness at all of the GDPR  This compares to 27 per cent across all business sectors, and just 14 per cent in the financial services sector, a sector that is most prepared;

- again, just 35 per cent of real estate and construction businesses have yet to take any steps to prepare for the GDPR. This compares to 20 per cent across all businesses and 15 per cent in the financial services sector;

- some 28 per cent of real estate businesses and construction do not have any data breach contingency plan, compared with 23 per cent of businesses across other sectors;

- 18 per cent of all businesses surveyed believe that if they had to pay the maximum fine under the new GDPR regulations – the higher of €20 million or four per cent of worldwide turnover – it would put them at risk of insolvency.

The survey also reports that 57 per cent of businesses’ senior management have little or no direct involvement with data protection and that 34 per cent of businesses have no plans to perform a data risk assessment in the remaining months of 2017.

“It cannot be overstated just how far reaching a change the GDPR will be to the data protection landscape in the UK.  It impacts all real estate businesses that deal with personal data – no matter how small.  The potentially-enormous penalties mean that no business can afford to treat its data protection policies and procedures as a low priority” insists Patrick Wheeler.

“The new regime comes at a time when data is becoming increasingly important to businesses. Owning and exploiting customer data is now a key part of a business’ competitive strength – meaning the GDPR really is raising the stakes.”

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    I am franchisee of an Estate Agency and I am also a GDPR Practitioner and Business Consultant. I can say with professional experience that very few organisations have taken GDPR seriously enough yet. The most frightening aspect of GDPR, which the above article does not mention is that from May next year organisations will need to be able to prove they are compliant with the regulation, so they cannot just hope that they don't have a breach. I am happy to be contacted if you would like to understand better what you need to do to prepare. 07742 200020.

  • Kristjan Byfield

    If you google GDPR I don't think you can say any industry is currently prepared for new regs as exactly what they mean and the measures required to comply are still being hotly debated. Once this has been clarified then all parties can move to place these measures in place but everyone is in the same boat.

    Anthony Hesse

    Spot on Kristjan. Very murky waters indeed. What is evident is that the current practices of most estate agents and recruitment agencies will breach the new regulations when they come in to place next year.

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    what worries me is the HR side - all those "Disgruntled Dans" who have left the business under a cloud can catch you out, they only have to prove distress not loss ( also the storage of CV's)

    A minefield!


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