The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the UK’s data protection regulator, has launched a campaign to remind sole traders and SMEs of their legal responsibility to pay a data protection fee. The move marks the start of an extensive programme to make sure the Data Protection Fee is paid by all those who need to pay it.

The Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018 require every business that processes personal information to pay a data protection fee to the ICO, unless they’re exempt. Not paying when you should may result in a fine of up to £4,000.

If you’ve received a letter from the ICO in the last few days, you have until 17 January to register and pay your fee, or to let the ICO know if you’re exempt. If you’re not sure if you’re exempt, you can take an online self-assessment at

Landlords and letting agents who hold personal information for business purposes on any electronic device, including using CCTV for crime prevention purposes, are likely to be required to pay the fee.

Typically, personal data processed by landlords and letting agents is for the purpose of producing tenancy agreements and contracts, performing credit checks on prospective tenants, and obtaining references. Any or all of these activities would require a data protection fee to be submitted, along with an online registration which takes approximately 15 minutes.

A landlord marketing their own property and creating a database of potential tenants is not exempt from this fee. If a data protection fee is required, the landlord would register as a sole trader (if a sole person owns the property), partnership (if there are multiple owners) or limited company. The sector is ‘land or property services’ and nature of work subsector is ‘property management’.

Paying the fee and being listed on the ICO’s the register of fee payers shows customers, clients and tenants that you take your data protection obligations seriously and it’s important that this obligation isn’t overlooked. Most will need to pay £40 or £60 a year, but for large organisations the fee is £2,900. 

Landlords and letting agents can avoid the ICO needing to contact them by either:

1.    Visiting the ICO’s website to register and pay the Data Protection Fee online
2.    Completing this form to let the ICO know why your company is exempt from paying the fee.

For tools, advice and resources on how to comply with the GDPR as a landlord or letting agent, visit

14 January 2020 - 1:43pm
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