The ICO exists to empower you through information.

If you are reading this page, you are probably in the real estate sector and have recently received a letter from the ICO.

As the UK’s data protection regulator, we are contacting all organisations that appear to need to pay a fee under data protection legislation.

All businesses and other organisations that process personal information should pay the annual data protection fee, unless they are exempt. The fee applies no matter how big, or small, your business or organisation is, although not everyone has to pay the same amount.

If you've paid in the last 14 days, please ignore the letter asking you to pay. If you have paid by card or direct debit, it can take up to 24 hours to receive confirmation. You will need to renew your fee every 12 months.

What is data protection?

The information you hold about your customers and clients is one of your biggest assets. If you want to make the best use of it, you need to be aware of your responsibilities.

Data protection isn’t just about paying the fee. It is the fair and proper use of information about people. Understanding it will help you use that data effectively, so you can provide the products and services your customers want and need. It will also help you use that data safely. Mistakes can be expensive to put right. They can also be damaging to clients and threaten your reputation as a business that puts its customers first.

The UK data protection regime is set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 and the UK GDPR.

What is 'personal data'?

Personal data is information about particular living individuals. This might be anyone, including customers, clients, employees, business partners, members, supporters, business contacts, public officials or members of the public.

It does not need to be 'private' information – Information which is public knowledge or which is about someone's professional life can be personal data too.

It includes records held electronically (such as on computer, laptops, smartphones or cameras) as well as paper records, if you plan to put them on a computer or other electronic device or if you file them in an organised way.

Does data protection apply to me?

Yes, if you have information about people for any business or other non-household purpose.

Data protection law applies to any 'processing of personal data', so will apply to most businesses and organisations, whatever their size. But there are some exemptions from the obligation to pay.

What do I need to do?

If you have received a letter from us, quoting your Companies House registration number you must:

Our self-assessment tool will help you work out if you need to pay. We have also added some frequently asked questions below.

If you do need to pay, the online form will ask for your sector. You can choose, but are not limited, to:

  • Land and Property Services, Property Management, Property Management
  • Land and Property Services, Property Management, HIP Providers (House Info Pack)
  • Land and Property Services, Estate Agency/ Letting Agency, Estate Agents
  • Land and Property Services, Estate Agency/ Letting Agency, Letting Agents
  • Land and Property Services, Housing Association, housing Association
  • General Business, Business Advice and Consultancy, Consultant
  • General Business, Supplier of Services, Other

Frequently asked questions

I have CCTV on my business premises for crime prevention reasons – do I need to pay a fee?

Yes. Images of people caught on camera is their personal data. If you record these images to prevent crime, and crime prevention is not the purpose of your business, then you need to pay.

I’m a landlord – do I need to pay?

If you are processing personal data for the purpose of producing tenancy agreements/contracts, performing credit checks via a credit reference agency on prospective tenants and obtaining references. This would require you to pay a data protection fee.

I’m a landlord but have a letting agent to fully manage my property – do I need to pay?

If you are using a letting agent who fully manages the letting of the property and you only receive a monthly statement and rent, this would fall under the accounts and records exemption. The accounts and records exemption is intended to cover any personal data processed in electronic format to provide invoicing and your own accounts.

However, if as a landlord you create a database of potential tenants, make any decision to which tenant can rent your property and/or you receive electronic copies of tenancy agreements then payment of fee is required.

I hold personal data about members for my: residents’ management company; property management company; flat management company or freehold management company. The information I process is for the purpose of maintaining the property and looking after the communal area - do I need to pay a fee?

If you are processing information such as:

  • Personal details on each residents
  • Financial payments – e.g. how much each resident pays into the account
  • Maintenance requests
  • Decisions on what suppliers to use e.g. builder/gardener
  • How much to spend on each area of the property
  • Dispute resolution between residents
  • CCTV for crime prevention
  • Meeting notes

Yes, you are required to pay a fee. This processing is for the purpose of property management and you are unable to rely on an exemption.

I manage a commercial property – do I need to pay?

If you have CCTV for crime prevention then you would be required to pay a fee.

We are an estate agency – do we need to pay?

Yes, you are required to pay a fee.

We are a housing association – do we need to pay?

Yes, just like other types of rental and letting agents the data you are processing; such as rental agreements and payments and maintenance requests, would require a fee to be paid.

My organisation is a registered charity – do I need to pay?

This would depend on what personal data you were processing and why. A registered charity would only pay the lowest fee tier of £40. Our self-assessment tool will help you determine if you are required to pay a fee.

How do I know if my company can claim the not-for-profit exemption – we don’t make a profit?

To meet the criteria for the not-for-profit exemption the organisation:

  • be established as a not-for-profit organisation, which may be stated in your constitution/articles
  • only process information necessary to establish or maintain membership or support
  • only process information necessary to provide or administer activities for people who are members of the organisation or have regular contact with it;
  • you only hold information about individuals whose data you need to process for this exempt purpose
  • the personal data you process is restricted to personal information that is necessary for this exempt purpose
  • only keep the information while the individual is a member or supporter or as long as necessary for member/supporter administration

The organisation would not be exempt

  • if you are responsible for CCTV
  • if you provide additional services outside of the organisations aims/objectives that can’t be covered by the other exemptions
  • if you trade and share in personal data

I only process personal information for personal, family or household affairs – do I need to pay?

This will only apply to you if you are not running a business (Renting out a property is like running a small business).

Individuals are exempt from paying a fee if the only information they process is for personal, family or household affairs that have no connection to any commercial or professional activity.

‘Personal, family or household affairs’ includes recreational activities and the capturing of images that contain personal data, even if they captured in a public space.

Examples include holding a personal address list; social networking and online activity, including blogging (as long as this is done in a purely personal capacity and you do not use the blog to endorse or promote businesses, services or products); using CCTV to monitor property, even if capturing images beyond the boundaries of your property; and personal information held in connection with a hobby, even if this involves capturing personal data images in a public space.

My company is dormant – do I need to pay?

It depends. If your business is dormant and you are not processing personal data electronically, then you’re not required to pay the fee.
However, some businesses and professionals are required to retain some personal data after they cease trading or practicing, as required by industry guidelines. If this applies to you then you probably will need to pay.

Please visit data protection fee exemptions to check.

Do I have to pay if I have a website?

It depends on what’s on your website and what other personal data you hold.

If you use your website to promote another person's business activity, goods, or services, you will need to pay because you are advertising and marketing for others.

If you just have a website that advertises your own products or services, then you won’t need to pay because of your website. But you will need to use our self-assessment tool to see if there are any other activities you undertake that mean you do need to pay.

Do I have to pay because I take card payments?

You are also not required to pay just because you take card payments. However, if you provide credit facilities and do credit checks on customers via a credit reference agency, or if you process personal data for any other non-exempt reason, then you do need to pay.

I do credit checks on my clients – do I need to pay?

Yes. When performing a credit check via a credit reference agency you will be sharing and obtaining sensitive data with third party agencies so you would need to pay the fee.

I have a dashcam on my business vehicle – do I need to pay the fee?

If you have a dashcam that you use for work purposes on a vehicle that you use for work – even if you own the vehicle - then you will need to pay a data protection fee. Again, images of people recorded on camera – even when in their cars - will be their personal data.

More information

There is more information about the data protection fee on our website.

There is also lots of information for sole traders and smaller businesses on our SME web hub, to help you understand data protection and how it can help you safely make the most out of the personal data you hold.