How to make a Subject Access Request

Under the 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.

Before doing so, it would be useful to gather evidence to support your claim. You 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 Data Protection Act 1998.  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 together with a cheque for £10 by recorded delivery. You need to pay £10, which is the maximum amount stipulated in the DPA 1998, and the builder then has 40 days to comply. (One month from 25 May 2018) Failure to comply with your request is a clear breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

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.

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. It clearly shows that Bovis were "going to doctor" an independent report.

You 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 40 day stipulated period, you should formally complain to the ICO regarding the house builder's non-compliance about a Data Protection Issue. However, 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. £10 well spent! (No charge from 25 May 2018 - see GDPR below)

Remember it will only cost you a maximum of £10 and the price of a stamp. It will be a huge inconvenience to your builder, costing them a great deal more finding, copying and posting you the information.

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) comes into force on 25 May 2018 and 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 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