Is your landlord getting too personal? You might be surprised to find out what information you are allowed to keep private.

There are rules under the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) that landlords must abide by when collecting information on tenants for the purposes of renting to them. 

A landlord is NOT allowed to ask you for the following:

Criminal Record Check. A landlord may only collect information about an individual’s criminal history for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances and only for the purposes that they disclose to the prospective tenant. For example, it may be reasonable if the rental unit is in the same building as a daycare.  A landlord cannot require an individual to consent to a criminal record check as a condition of providing a tenancy unless that information is necessary to provide that tenancy.

Banking Information. A landlord cannot require a tenant’s banking information prior to establishing the tenancy. However, after an applicant has been selected the landlord must be able to collect rent money and may do so in numerous ways: cash, automated bank withdrawal, personal cheque, money order, pre-authorized payment, email money transfer, or credit card.

Your Age, unless only if it is for purposes that a reasonable person would consider appropriate in the circumstances. For example, if the landlord is renting a unit in a building where all the housing is reserved for individuals who are over the age of 55.

They can; however ask you for:

Valid identification. It is reasonable for a landlord to collect information from an individual’s valid government-issued photo identification. A landlord should view the identification and then return it. A landlord should not copy or retain an individual’s identification.

References. A landlord may collect information about an individual from a reference, but only with the tenant’s consent.

Income and employment information. If an individual is not able to provide adequate references, it may be reasonable for a landlord to collect personal information about proof of income or employment to establish that the tenant can pay rent.

Social Insurance Number. If a landlord determines that it is reasonable to conduct a credit check on an individual, it is reasonable for the landlord to collect the individual’s social insurance number for the purposes of identifying them to the reporting agency in order to receive the correct report. Often, an individual’s full name and date of birth will be sufficient to identify the individual to a reporting agency. For this reason, landlords should avoid asking all applicants for their social insurance number or should make providing the social insurance number optional on their application form. Social insurance numbers can be used for identity theft, so it is best to avoid collecting them whenever possible.

Under Section 10(1) of the Human Rights Code, landlords are prohibited from refusing to rent to someone based on their:

  • Race
  • Colour
  • Ancestry
  • Family status
  • Religion
  • Marital status
  • Physical or mental ability
  • Sex, gender identity or expression or sexual orientation
  • Lawful source of income

And something interesting to note, landlords are allowed to collect personal information on tenants without consent from publicly available sources. These sources are defined in PIPA and are very narrow. They include professional business directories, newspapers, and magazines, but they DO NOT include social media. That said, many landlords use social media to glean more information on you or as a way to verify what you’ve told them. Read more about How Landlords Do Their Research On You



Source: Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia –