Landlords and homeowner associations often are privy to a wide variety of tenant data from financial statements and credit scores to personal contact information. With this access to tenant information comes a great responsibility to protect that data from cyber criminals and anyone looking to use it with malicious intent.
Think about the vast amount of data that could be collected from a digital or physical file on a tenant. Social security numbers, credit card numbers, addresses, personal contact information, and banking numbers are just the start of information that could be mined from a database kept by landlords or homeowners associations (HOAs).
Today, let’s take a closer look at what type of information is usually retained regarding individual tenants and how your company or organization can help keep that data secure.
Types of Data Landlords Keep
In order to keep an apartment complex, apartment units, or homeowners associations running, there needs to be a fair amount of sharing of information in order to pay the bills, mortgages, and vendors who service the community.
That being said, there is quite a bit of information needed by landlords. Some of these types of data include:
These files will include the basic contact and rental agreements signed between the management company and the tenant. It will include names, addresses, background information, any pet agreements, and car information including registration and license for parking areas.
Additionally, the tenant files will include when the person(s) began renting and the date they moved out.
Renting an apartment unit or being a part of a homeowners association involves the payment of money on a monthly or quarterly basis.
With payments, comes a bevy of information about credit cards, credit scores, bank routing numbers, and financial information that, if stolen, could be used maliciously. This information could be used for fraud, identity theft, or phishing scams.
This information is required by landlords and each state has its requirements for the amount of time that rental business owners must retain financial records.
In order to successfully manage a property many landlords and HOAs rely on third party vendors to complete things such as: landscaping, pool maintenance, snow plowing, plumbing, electrical, and the list could go on and on.
All of these invoices and receipts could also have vital financial and personal information that would be alluring to cyber criminals looking for vulnerabilities.
How To Protect Sensitive Tenant & Vendor Information
There are many ways that a landlord or property management company can protect data. From using secure passwords to limiting access to sensitive data, here are a few of our suggestions as a reputable property management company.
- Use strong passwords. We also suggest investing in a password manager to keep track and choose strong passwords for the multitude of files and data you will collect.
- Limit access to sensitive data to only those who need to use it for work.
- Install antivirus software and keep it updated.
- Install all patches as recommended by manufacturers.
- Limit internet use and non-work use for work devices to stop the problems of unsecure websites.
- Use dual authentication or multifactor authentication.
- Encrypt your emails, especially those with financial information.
- Dispose of files (properly) after the required holding period.
Need more advice on keeping sensitive data private? Our expert team of professional property managers are highly skilled and experienced in all Thayer & Associates best practices.