Rightmove property website in bed with the tax man


Righmove.co.uk the UKs largest property website has controversially signed a contract with the governments Valuation Office Agency (VOA). The contract will see Rightmove handing over data to the government that will help tax banding. The government department which is part of HM Revenue & Customs allocates council tax bands to every home in England and Wales. The information that Rightmove.co.uk  holds will allow the department to gain access to information that will help them assess more accurately the tax banding of homes.
More than half of all UK estate agents advertise their properties on Rightmove.co.uk. Eight of the top ten corporate estate agents (those with 100 or more branches) currently list their properties on the site.
The agreement between the government and Rightmove.co.uk runs until 2008, also gives inspectors access to old records. The development has not been welcomed by some and is bound to call into question the control individuals have about the data they supply to third parties.
CEO of Homesgofast.com Nicholas Marr ‘this must be a commercial move, Rightmoves risks the successful relationships they have with their customers and the benefits must have outweighed those risks’
 Rightmove commercial director Miles Shipside refused to discuss the value of the contract. He said: “Rightmove publishes details of all property listed by its members on its public website, where the photographs, floor plans and property descriptions can be viewed and saved. The agreement simply allows the VOA access to already published data from the website.”
A spokesman for the VOA said: “The contract is subject to commercial confidentiality. This is just routine updating, using publicly available material.”
Conservative local government spokesman Eric Pickles said: “This is a sinister development. It is several steps beyond Big Brother.
“We should do our best to limit the amount of personal information the Government holds. That’s because they are never able to resist the temptation to use it – and in this case they will use it to raise taxes.”
But homeowners who have used the website were shocked that their details had been sent to the Government without their knowledge. Theresa Pratt, who sold her three-bedroom house in Ealing, West London, through Foxtons, said: “I had no idea that the details would end up with the Government.”
A spokesperson Richard Thomas who represents Britain’s Information Commissioner, said: “If personal information is involved and the consent of householders has not been expressly given, this could be a data protection issue.”

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