Landlords in BC must follow the Personal Information and Protection Act, which outlines the rules for collecting, using, storing, disclosing, and protecting a tenant’s personal information. The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC (OIPC) has developed a helpful guidance document that explains these rules in plain language.
According to the OIPC, landlords can always ask for the following information:
- name and proof of identity;
- contact information;
- name of current and previous landlords;
- eviction history;
- addresses of previous residences and how long lived there;
- reason(s) for leaving previous residences;
- pet information;
- expected length of tenancy;
- consent for a criminal record check; and
- number of occupants.
According to the OIPC, landlords can sometimes ask for the following information:
- birth date;
- age of unit occupants;
- social insurance number (SIN);
- non-landlord (personal) references;
- amount of current or previous rent;
- current employment and salary information;
- consent for a credit check;
- bank statements; and
- federal tax assessments.
Whether or not a landlord can ask for this information will depend on the situation. For example, a landlord may be allowed to ask for pay stubs, bank statements, income tax assessments or consent for a credit check, but only if you are unable to provide satisfactory references or employment and income verification. Similarly, a landlord may be able to ask about your age if you are applying for housing reserved for seniors aged 55 or older.
SIN: If your landlord has grounds to ask for a credit check, they may also ask you for your birth date and SIN. To avoid having to provide your SIN, consider running a free credit check on yourself and distributing copies to potential landlords.
According to the OIPC, landlords can almost never ask for the following information:
- consent to collect personal information “from other sources”;
- proof of insurance;
- driver’s licence number;
- whether any intended occupants smoke;
- vehicle information;
- applicant’s banking history;
- marital status;
- credit card number; and
- emergency contact info.
If a landlord refuses to rent to you because you didn’t provide this personal information, you can consider filing a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC.