Correct as at 10.16

Aster Group takes your privacy seriously and uses your information in accordance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

This privacy notice tells you what to expect when Aster processes personal information. It applies to information about applicants, customers and other service users. Read on below for more information about how we use your personal information.

In using our website you are consenting to us collecting and using personal data about you as explained below in accordance with this policy statement. Should we choose to change these terms for any reason, the changes will be posted here so that you are always kept informed about the collection and use of your personal information, and when we disclose it.

This privacy notice will be updated to reflect changes either to the way in which we operate or changes to the data protection legislation. To make sure that you keep up to date, we suggest that you revisit this notice from time to time.

  • Your personal information

    Why do we collect and store personal information?

    Aster needs to collect, process and store personal information about you and other household members*, in order to operate as a registered provider of affordable housing and deliver efficient and effective services.

    * When you provide information about household members we assume that you do so with their full knowledge and consent.

    How do we collect personal information about you and how is it used?

    • You may provide personal information when communicating with us
    • You may use our services and give your name and e-mail address to make a comment about our services or website
    • If you enter a competition or promotion we will ask your name, address and e-mail address
    • We will collect information about your tastes and preferences, both when you tell us and by analysis of customer traffic, including using ‘cookies’
    • It may be that some of the personal information you give us (for example, about your health and age) is sensitive personal data within the meaning of the Data Protection Act 1998. This information will only be disclosed with your express consent
    • It may be that you provide us with details of credit or debit cards or bank accounts in making payment to us. Any such information (confidential financial information) will be disclosed only in accordance with the disclosure policy below
    • We may use personal information collected about you to help us develop the layout of our website to ensure that our site is as useful and enjoyable as possible
    • We may use personal information collected about you to let you know about functions on our website or changes to our terms and conditions of use.

     How do we protect your information?

    We have strict security procedures covering the storage of your information in order to prevent unauthorised access and to comply with the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. This means that sometimes we may ask you for proof of identity or for other personal information before we can process your call or enquiry further.

    Why do we collect and store personal information?

    Aster needs to collect, process and store personal information about you and other household members*, in order to operate as a registered provider of affordable housing and deliver efficient and effective services.

    * When you provide information about household members we assume that you do so with their full knowledge and consent.

    Information we may hold about you and how we use it

    The information we hold on our records concerns our relationship with you. For example:

    • We hold names and dates of birth, photographic ID and information about your previous housing circumstances to assess housing applications and help prevent tenancy fraud and illegal subletting
    • We hold contact details for you so we can communicate with you by your preferred means, and keep you informed about services we offer which may be useful to you
    • We record information about your needs and requirements to make sure our services are accessible; that we take account of any support needs in our dealings with you; and to improve our communications with you. For example, if you are involved with a carer or social worker; if you need adaptations in your home or if you need large print or translated text
    • We record information to assist us in delivering housing management services including reports of anti-social behaviour; complaints; changes in circumstances and information about housing options (e.g. if you have a medical need which means you need to move).
    • We keep financial records about the amount of money you have paid us; any amount(s) outstanding and associated recovery action
    • We may hold information about you if you are engaged with our additional guidance and support services. For example, in connection with access to training and employment, we may hold information about your job history and skills and experience, or if we support you to improve your financial circumstances, we may hold information about your household income and expenditure
    • We may hold recordings of your telephone calls to us, as some calls to our contact centre are recorded for training and monitoring purposes so we can make sure we’re delivering a good service **
    • We may capture your image on our surveillance systems if you visit an estate, office or community facility which is covered by this facility **
    • We may carry out market research and customer satisfaction surveys to help us to monitor our performance and improve our services.

    ** Call recordings and surveillance recordings will be held in accordance with our corporate retention policy before being erased.

    This list is not exhaustive as we hold records of most contact we have with you, or about you, and process this information so we can deliver your services. Generally, the information we hold will have been provided by you (on application or via enquiry forms or when we communicate with you), but we may also hold information provided by third parties where this is relevant to your housing circumstances, for example, from social workers and health professionals such as doctors and occupational therapists.

    We will only ask for personal information that's appropriate to help us deliver our services. In some cases, you can refuse to provide your details if you think a request is inappropriate. However, this may impact our ability to provide you with some services.

    How we manage your personal information

    Your personal information will be processed in accordance with the principles of the Data Protection Act 1998.

    Access to personal information is restricted to authorised individuals on a strictly need to know basis. We will treat your personal information fairly and lawfully and will make sure it is:

    • Processed for limited purposes
    • Kept up to date, accurate, relevant and not excessive
    • Not kept longer than is necessary
    • Kept secure.

    We're committed to keeping your personal details up to date, and we encourage you to inform us about any changes needed to make sure your details are accurate.

    To help us ensure that your personal information is kept confidential, we will ask you security questions to confirm your identity when you call us. We won't discuss your personal information with anyone other than you, unless you've given us prior written authorisation to do so by completing a disclosure authority form.

    Aster only holds records during the period of our relationship and for a set period afterwards to allow us to meet our legal obligations including resolving any follow up issues between us.

    Sharing your personal information

    Normally, only Aster will be able to see and process your personal information. However, there may be times when we will share relevant information with third parties for the purposes as outlined above, or where we're legally required to do so. When sharing personal information, we will comply with all aspects of the Data Protection Act. Sensitive information about health, sexual life, race, religion and criminal activity for example is subject to particularly stringent security and confidentiality measures; we will seek your specific consent before sharing this information.

    Where necessary or required, we may share information as follows:

    • With our contractors, in order to undertake repairs, maintenance or improvement works.
    • With third party service providers, in connection with services performed on our behalf. (Our relationships with service providers are governed by our contracts with them which include strict data sharing and confidentiality protocols).
    • With other housing associations, trusts and landlords, in connection with tenancy references and associated enquiries.
    • With community partners in connection with the delivery of co-ordinated local services.
    • With utility companies and their representatives, in connection with the setting up and supply of services and unpaid bills (e.g. gas, electricity and water).
    • With credit reference agencies and debt collection agencies, in connection with some housing applications and in relation to any outstanding charges owed once residents leave their Aster home.
    • With local authorities and government departments, as necessary for administering justice, or for exercising statutory, governmental, or other public functions.
    • With police and other relevant authorities (e.g. Probation Service, Department of Work and Pensions, HM Revenues and Customs) in relation to the prevention or detection of crime and fraud; the apprehension or prosecution of offenders and the assessment or collection of tax or duty.
    • With other statutory organisations, e.g. social services and health authorities, as necessary for exercising statutory functions.
    • With our regulator, the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), to comply with our regulatory obligations.

    This list isn't exhaustive as there are other circumstances where we may also be required to share information, for example:

    • To meet our legal obligations.
    • In connection with legal proceedings (or where we're instructed to do so by Court order).
    • To protect the vital interests of an individual (in a life or death situation).

    Disclosure policy

    We reserve the right to access and disclose individually identifiable information to enable us to comply with applicable laws and lawful government requests to operate its systems and to protect itself or its users. Please click here to download the Authority to Disclose form.

  • Your rights

    Subject Access

    The most commonly exercised right is that used by individuals to obtain a copy, subject to exemptions, of their personal data processed by the Aster Group. Details of the application process, known as “Subject Access”, can be found under the heading of Subject Access Requests in this Privacy Notice.

    Right to prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress

    Under Section 10 of the Act an individual is entitled, in limited circumstances, to write to the Aster Group requiring that we do not handle their personal data in a manner that was causing or would be likely to cause unwarranted substantial damage or substantial distress to themselves or another person.

    Requests under Section 10 must describe the personal data involved; describe the handling to which the individual objects; state that the handling was causing or would be likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress to him/her or another; describe the damage or distress; state that the damage or distress was/would unwarranted; and give reasons why the handling was causing/would cause such distress and was/would be unwarranted.

    All requests of this nature may be sent in writing to the Aster Group Data Protection Officer (see "How to contact us" section on this page). It is worth noting that the Act includes certain provisions which may mean in a particular case Aster can continue to handle the personal data as intended despite the objection.

    Right to prevent processing for the purposes of direct marketing

    Under Section 11 of the Act and subject to certain exemptions, an individual has the right to request in writing that Aster stops within a reasonable time, or does not start, using their personal data for direct marketing purposes. This includes the communication by any means (e.g. mail, email, telephone, door-to-door canvassing) of any advertising or marketing material directed at particular individuals.

    Any requests under Section 11 may be sent to the Aster Group Data Protection Officer (see "How to contact us" section on this page).

    Rights in relation to automated decision-taking

    Although Aster is unlikely to carry out any automated decision-taking that does not involve some human element, under Section 12 of the Act and subject to certain exemptions, an individual has the right to require that Aster ensures that no decision that would significantly affect them is taken by Aster or on its behalf purely using automated decision-making software. The right has to be exercised in writing. If there is a human element involved in the decision-making the right does not apply.

    Requests under Section 12 may be sent to the Aster Group Data Protection Officer (see "How to contact us" section on this page).

    Right to take action for compensation if the individual suffers damage by any contravention of the Act by data controllers

    Under Section 13 of the Act any individual who believes they have suffered damage and/or distress as a result of any contravention of the requirements of the Act may be entitled to compensation from Aster where the force is unable to prove that it had taken such care as was reasonable in all the circumstances to comply with the relevant requirement.

    Any claim for compensation arising from this provision may be sent to the Aster Group Data Protection Officer (see "How to contact us" section on this page).

    Right to take action to rectify, block, erase or destroy inaccurate data

    Under Section 14 of the Act an individual has the right to seek a court order for the rectification, blocking, erasure or destruction of their inaccurate personal data handled by Aster. The right cannot be exercised directly to the Aster Group.

    Right to request the Information Commissioner to assess a data controller’s processing

    Under Section 42 of the Act any person can request the Information Commissioner to make an assessment if they believe that they are/have been adversely affected by the handling of personal data by the Aster Group. Such requests should be made direct to the Information Commissioner whose contact details can be found below.

    Generally, if individuals have any concerns regarding the way their personal data is handled by Aster or the quality (accuracy, relevance, non-excessiveness etc.) of their personal data they are encouraged to raise them with the Aster Group Data Protection Officer.

  • Customer verification

    Protecting your personal information is very important to us which is why we have a Customer Verification policy.

    What is customer verification?

    Customer verifications means we will ask security questions when you contact us to discuss your home or tenancy.

    We want to make sure your information is kept confidential and is only discussed or disclosed when we have taken all reasonable steps to assure ourselves that:

    • You are who you say you are, and
    • You are either the named tenancy holder or have their permission to talk to us.

    Having these security measures helps us meet our obligations under the Data Protection Act and, more importantly, keeps your information safe.

    How will you verify me?

    • Your date of birth
    • Your contact telephone number as it shows on our records
    • Whether your tenancy is in joint or single names
    • What was the last repair you reported to us?
    • Who else lives at the property?
    • Your email address
    • Your tenancy reference number
    • Your national insurance number
    • How long have you had the tenancy / lived at the property?
    • How much is your rent / do you receive Housing Benefit?
    • Your previous address
    • Your maiden name, or a name you have previously been known by.

    What if I need someone to speak to you on my behalf?

    We understand sometimes you'll ask a relative, friend or carer to contact us on your behalf.

    So we can protect your information, unless you've arranged an 'Authority to Disclose' by sending us the form below, or we've been informed of a Power of Attorney, we'll ask to speak to you in order to:

    • Gain your consent to speak to someone else
    • Confirm what you're happy for us to discuss and what you'd like to remain confidential.

    If you think someone will usually contact us on your behalf, please click here to download an Authority to Disclose form.

    You will need to return the completed form to the Neighbourhood Team at your local office. Click here for a list of all our office details.

  • Access to my personal information

    Under the Data Protection Act, you have a right to ask us what personal information we hold about you and to request a copy of your information.

    This is known as a ‘Subject Access Request’ (SAR). SARs need to be made in writing and we ask that you download and complete this form to help us with your request.

    If you would like to know what information Aster holds about you, click here to download the Subject Access Request form.

    Your request must be accompanied by proof of your identity. We also charge a £10 processing fee, which can be paid by cheque or postal order, made payable to 'Aster Group'.

    We then have 40 calendar days to provide you with the information you've asked for (although we will try to provide it as promptly as possible.

    In response to SARs, we will provide you with a copy of the information we hold that relates to you. This will not generally include information that relates to your property such as repair logs or details of contractor visits, as this is not considered personal information.

    If you need us to correct any mistakes contained in the information we hold about you, you can do so by contacting the Data Protection Officer at the address above.

    How much does it cost?

    For each Subject Access Request (SAR) we charge a £10 processing fee. This must be paid by cheque or postal order and made out to 'Aster Group'.

    You must pay the fee and confirm your identity before we can deal with your request.

    How long will it take?

    By law we must reply to your SAR application within 40 calendar days. However, failure to provide proof of identity or the £10 fee will delay the processing of your application.

    Once we have received your fee and confirmed your identity we will send you a letter to acknowledge receipt of your request and let you know the date the information will be sent to you.

    If you do not receive the information by the stated date, please let us know by:

    • Emailing us: dataprotection@aster.co.uk
    • Calling us: 01264 405814 / 01749 832118
    • Writing to us: Data Protection Officer, Governance and Assurance, Aster Group, Testway House, Greenwich Way, Andover SP10 4BF

    What do I do with my completed form?

    You must either post the completed form to the Data Protection Officer at the address below, take it in person to an area office or email DataProtection@aster.co.uk

    Can I send the completed SAR application back by fax or email to save time?

    No, processing can only begin when the fee is received.

    Can I use a SAR form to access someone else's records?

    No. The Subject Access Request process is confidential between the individual and the Aster Group. We cannot provide you with another person's details. 

    How can I prove my identity?

    We require proof of ID and proof of address (one of these must show your current address).

    Proof of ID - anyone from this list:

    • Passport
    • Driver's licence
    • Government-issue photo identification
    • National Insurance card
    • Tenancy agreement
    • Credit or bank card
    • Birth certificate.

    Plus, proof of residence - anyone from this list:

    • Rent card/book
    • Benefit book
    • Council tax bill
    • Utility bill (from within the last three months)
    • Credit or bank card statement (from within the last three months)
    • Letter from a government department.

    Please do not send original documents as photocopies are acceptable.

    Can I pay by debit or credit card?

    No - unfortunately we currently do not have the facilities to accept this payment by credit or debit cards.

    Who processes my application?

    It will be processed by the Aster Group. We will carry out the appropriate checks and reply to you within 40 calendar days.

  • Experian rental exchange

    Aster will share information with Experian Rental Exchange so we are able to work more closely with our customers and help you to manage your existing tenancy agreement. Managing your tenancy well will enable Experian to use the information supplied to them in the future to assist other landlords and organisations to:

    • Assess and manage new tenancy agreements you may enter into;
    • Assess your financial standing to provide you with suitable products and services;
    • Manage accounts that you may already hold, for example reviewing suitable products or adjusting your current product in light of your current circumstances;
    • Contact you in relation to any accounts you may have and recovering debts that you may owe;
    • Verify your identity and address to help them make decisions about services they offer; and
    • Help prevent crime, fraud and money laundering.

    If you object to your data being shared with the Experian Rental Exchange, please contact so we can explain the advantages of sharing information with Experian. If you do not wish to take part, we will comply with the wishes of the customer.

  • Data matching / preventing fraud

    Aster may use a data matching process, where appropriate, to prevent fraud. This involves comparing sets of data, such as the payroll or benefits records of a body, against other records held by the same or another body to see how far they match. The data is usually personal information.

    Data matching allows potentially fraudulent claims and payments to be identified. Where a match is found it may indicate there is an inconsistency that requires further investigation. No assumption will be made as to whether there is fraud, error or other explanation until an investigation has been carried out.

  • Environmental information regulations 2004 (EIR)

    The Environmental Information Regulations 2004 allow members of the public to request environmental information from public authorities. Aster Group is defined as a public authority under these regulations.

    You may apply to Aster Group to request the environmental information we hold. We aim to provide the information to you electronically so please include your email address.

    ExceptionsWe may refuse to disclose environmental information requested if one of the exceptions listed below applies: 

    • The information is not held by us, for example, it is in the public domain through the planning process*
    • The request is 'manifestly unreasonable'
    • The request for information is formulated in too general a manner, we will contact you about what you are looking for
    • The information is 'unfinished or in the course of being completed'
    • The request involves the disclosure of internal communications
    • Harm would be caused by releasing the information.

    * For information relating to a planning application apply direct to your local authority. 

    The Data Protection Act 1998 protects the privacy of any third party data included in the information requested.

    What we must do

    Once we are clear on what is requested in relation to environmental information, we will aim to provide it within the required 20 working days. If we are withholding information we will explain which exception applies. 

    Charges

    We will tell you if you have to pay anything. Most requests are free and we will send our answer by email if possible, but you might be asked to pay a small amount for photocopies or postage in some cases.

    How to Request

    Please send your request / enquiry to dataprotection@aster.co.uk using the subject heading “Environmental Information”.

  • Cookies and traffic data

    What are cookies and how do you deal with them?

    A cookie is a small text file that's stored on your computer, tablet or phone when you visit a website. It can help identify your device - like your PC or mobile phone - whenever you visit that website. They're used by most website, including Aster. To make the best use of our website, on whichever device you use, you will need to make sure your web browser is set to accept cookies.

    The cookies used by Aster Group websites don't contain any of your personal information and we can't use them to find out who you are.

    What are cookies used for?

    We use cookies and some other data stored on your device to:

    • Give you a better online experience
    • Allow you to set your personal preferences
    • Protect your security
    • Measure and improve our service
    • Work with partners and measure marketing.

    What information is kept by the cookie?

    A cookie will typically hold:

    • The name of the website it has come from
    • how long the cookie will stay on your computer or phone
    • A value - usually a randomly generated unique number.

    What cookies does Aster use?

    We use cookies set by the Aster web domain known as 'first-party' cookies.

    Some are necessary for the functionality of the site, others provide information that we analyse to monitor and improve the site. These first-party cookies do not store or collect any personal information or anything that make you personally identifiable to us. Typically, the cookies generate a random, unique number to store information about a user.

    Cookies for measuring website usage

    • Google Analytics cookies: _utma, _utmb, _utmc, _utmz. Its purpose is to record how many people are using the website and how they move around the site once they've arrived.

    Data stored by cookies:

    • _utma stores each user's number of visits, time of the first visit, the previous visit and the current visit.
    • _utmb and _utmc checks how long a visitor stays on the site: when a visit starts and ends.
    • _utmz tracks where a visitor came from (search engine, search keyword, link).

    Duration of cookies:

    • _utma expires two years after your last visit to this site.
    • _utmb expires 30 minutes after your visit, or after 30 minutes of inactivity.
    • _utmc expires at the end of a session (when you close your browser).
    • _utmz expires six months after it was last set.

    Third-party cookies (cookies set by other websites through our pages)

    Some cookies are served by an external service when you use a page on our site, known as 'third-party' cookies.

    For example, on a number of pages we use 'plugins' such as Twitter, Facebook and Flickr. These cookies are specific to the third-party site domain - the data stored in them can be seen and managed by the third party, not by us.

    Although we can control whether we use the third-party services within our websites, we do not have control over the cookies themselves. It is not always possible to identify precisely the information that the cookies store.

    How do cookies affect my privacy?

    You can visit our website without revealing any personal information. We protect your personal information very carefully. The security and safety of your personal information is very important to us. We may ask you for personal information for security reasons or so you can use our services.

    How to control and delete cookies

    We will not use cookies to collect personally identifiable information about you. However, if you wish to restrict or block the cookies which are set by our websites, or indeed any other website, you can do this through your browser settings. The 'Help' function within your browser should tell you how.

    Alternatively, you may wish to visit the About Cookies website, which contains comprehensive information on how to do this on a wide variety of browsers. You will also find details on how to delete cookies from your machine as well as more general information about cookies.

    What happens if I don't accept cookies?

    If you decline cookies, some aspects of the Aster site may not work on your computer or mobile phone and you may not be able to access areas you want on the website. For this reason, we recommend that you accept cookies.

    What happens if I delete my cookies?

    If you delete all your cookies, you will have to update your preferences with us again and some aspects of our site may not work.

    Traffic data

    We may provide aggregate statistics about sales, customers, traffic patterns and information to third parties, but these statistics will not include any information that identifies you.

    Information we collect via this website

    We collect and store personal information via this website for a number of reasons (see above) including to help us provide better services and products to customers and potential customers.

    The information we collect fits into two categories:

    • Personal information entered into online forms by visitors to this website.
    • Anonymous statistical information collected by cookies.

    If you request a brochure, a call back or information from us via an email, online form or register your interest in a service, we will use your information to fulfil that request.

  • How to contact us

    If you would like to talk to us about how we handle your personal data, please contact our Data Protection Officer:

    • Email: DataProtection@aster.co.uk
    • Call: 01264 405814 or 01749 832118.
    • Write to: Data Protection Officer, Governance and Assurance, Aster Group, Testway House, Greenwich Way, Andover, Hampshire SP10 4BF.

    The Information Commissioner (ICO) can also advise you about your data protection rights. The ICO is an independent official body responsible for the Data Protection Act 1998. For more information, call 0303 123 1113 or click here to visit the ICO website.

    If you need our ICO registration number, please see the list below:

    • Aster Group - Z9842654
    • Aster Property - Z9436053
    • Aster Communities - Z2964186
    • Aster Homes - Z2708504
    • Aster Living - Z9435976
    • Synergy Housing - Z2945053