How to make a Subject Access Request

Under the General Data Protection Regulations (2018) (Data Protection Act 1998) an individual has a right to have access to information that is held by companies and organisations

For more information see

After you have tried everything else you may feel that you have no other option but to make a claim against you house builder for compensation in the County Court or. Before doing so, it would be useful to gather evidence to support your claim.

Subject Access RequestYou can obtain copies of all the information your house builder has in their 'Plot File' that relates to you and your home. You have a legal right to this information under the General Data Protection Regulations (2018) (GDPR). In order to receive all this information you need to make a formal Subject Access Request to the house builder. This is quite straight forward see: Subject Access Request template letter

Post your request letter by recorded delivery. The £10 fee stipulated in the previous DPA 1998 is no longer required.  The builder then has just 30 days to comply. Failure to comply with your request is a clear breach of the General Data Protection Regulations (2018).

The builder should then send you your entire Plot or Home File which will contain all sorts of useful information including internal e-mails - even e-mails between directors if they are about you and/or your home. It should include photographs they have taken and communications with their supply chain such as materials suppliers, sub contractors, warranty providers solicitors etc. It can be very useful to see what they are saying behind your back and could provide evidence to prove they have deliberately and knowingly lied and deceived.

As one buyer recently said on social media:

"It's an amazing gold mine of information on how they operate, hide issues etc. I would recommend this to anyone with issues in their home. It is free and gives you the ammunition needed to highlight the issues were well known and documented."

The information may include letters saying things about specific items such as:

"We cannot tell him what is our normal practice etc or what tends to happen on site. We must tell him what the official regulations and standards are and ensure that the installation is fully compliant"  or  "If we keep refusing, eventually he will give up"

One of the best examples was exposed in a Channel 4 Dispatches programme. Below is the e-mail that a new homebuyer received after making a Subject Access Request to Bovis Homes. It clearly shows that Bovis were "going to doctor" an independent report.

Subject Access RequestYou might also be able to find out how much profit they made on your home and how much they spent putting on remedial works and customer care. However, information deemed to be of a 'commercially sensitive' nature isn’t required to be included.

The information will significantly help you if you are considering a claim for compensation. This is a great way of getting information, especially if you are considering going to court.

Most companies run scared of the ICO, but if they fail to comply with your request within the 30-day stipulated period, you should formally complain to the ICO regarding the house builder's non-compliance and brecah of the General Data Protection Regulations. However be warned, it may take the ICO over a year to investigate.

You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that it will cost house builders a small fortune in postage (£20 or more) to post the information to you and that someone will have to go through the entire file and e-mail histories, crossing out 3rd party e-mail addresses and the like - For the price of a stamp, it will be a huge inconvenience to your house builder, costing them a great deal more finding, copying and posting you every piece of the information they have.

This may also be a great way of lodging a protest against bad workmanship and ongoing poor service. Imagine if everyone who had a problem on a particular development all made Subject Access Requests to the house builder it would be sure to get their senior director's attention.

General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679)

The new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) came into force on 25 May 2018 and now gives people the right to review their personal information which is being held by businesses.

There are some significant changes for organisations who receive SARs which include all housebuilders:

The GDPR also give individuals the right to insist that companies delete their personal such data under the "right-to-be-forgotten". Link to PDF

Download the ICO Guide to the GDPR here for more information.

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Making a Subject Access Request