GDPR - What does legitimate interest mean for estate agents?


May is a busy month. Asides from the Royal Wedding, and a couple of football finals it is GDPR month. On 25th May the operations of your business are set to change in respect of the client data you hold.

GDPR hasn’t been an easy task to get to grips with by any means, and adding “soft opt-in” (or "legitimate interest") to the mix of elements to understand seems to be another task. So let’s get cracking:

Soft opt-in means that a customer or client has a “legitimate interest” in your business’ services and you can therefore send them details for a service that can be of use to them. Let’s say you have a client who has provided you with their contact details as they are interested in buying a home through your estate agency. What this means is you can send them details about homes you are marketing that are for sale or mortgage advice from your in-house advisor. These are relevant to the services you are already speaking to them about and so it’s safe to assume that they will want to receive related information. What this doesn’t mean, however, is that you can send them marketing information for everything your business does. The marketing materials must be related to the service they are already speaking to you about or already paying for.

When a client expresses legitimate interest you should be providing them something of value around the service they require. So if your client is interested in selling their home through your agency, directing them to your valuation calculator is of value. Sending them information on the benefits of being a landlord, arguably, is not. If you can’t easily demonstrate how the marketing your sending is relevant to the service the customer is speaking to you about, you should think twice about sending it. Also keep in mind that at all times you must give the client the option to “unsubscribe” from your mailing list or receiving updates.

This also even extends to business cards. If you are provided with a business card from a prospective client or have attending a meeting and left with a business card, you can of course contact them but this doesn’t mean you can immediately sign them up to your mailing list (unless they have expressed interest of course).

We appreciate GDPR is complicated and this blog is for guidance purposes only. We’ve seen many agents discussing legitimate interest as a “get out of jail free card” and we feel it important that you are aware that it’s somewhat more complicated than that. Estate Apps are GDPR aware and GDPR compliant though for legal advice we recommend you consult with a GDPR legal expert and visit the ICO website.

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