RSLs and subsidiaries must first satisfy themselves whether or not they fall within the scope of the Order. Any organisation which is unsure should seek their own advice.
The Commissioner cannot advise individual organisations on their own structure or functions, and will only be able to consider individual cases in detail if an appeal is made under FOI or the EIRs, or a compliance issue is investigated.
As FOI rights only apply to information held by an organisation in relation to the functions covered by the Order, when an information request is received, organisations will have to consider the requested information to decide if FOI rights apply.
If FOI rights do apply to the information, the authority must respond in line with the duty to respond to requests.
If an authority considers that FOI rights don't apply to the information, it is good practice to:
- Explain to the requester that not all of the information it holds is subject to the FOI Act or the EIRs
- Set out the reasons why (for example, the information might relate to the provision of services for owners and occupiers of houses or the management of non-social housing accommodation, meaning that it is not covered by the Order)
- Consider the duty to advise and assist (for example, is there information which is covered by the Order which might help the requester?)
It's also good practice to notify the requester of their right of review and right to appeal against the decision.