You finally found your dream home! But now the landlord wants your Social Insurance Number (SIN), driver’s license, passport number, bank accounts and possibly your first born child. You need to proceed with caution.
On the one hand, you want that apartment. On the other hand, you don’t want to be victim to discrimination and you know that fraud and identity theft are real risks.
Below is a list of questions and documents that landlords may ask for. If you’re asked a question not on this list and would like to know more, feel free to send us an e-mail and we’ll do our best to find an answer. Alternatively, you can contact a tenant advocacy agency in your province or territory (see contact details below).
What questions are landlords allowed to ask?
A landlord can ask questions that will help to assess your suitability as a tenant, as long as they do not infringe on your rights. These kinds of questions include:
- What is your income?
- What is your income?
- Where do you work?
- Can you show me your employment history?
- Do you have employment references?
- Where do you currently live? Where have you lived?
- Can you provide me previous landlord contact information?
- Do you have any personal references that I may contact?
- How many people will be living with you and what are their names?
- Do you have pets?
- Do you smoke?
- Can you provide permission for a credit check?
Questions landlords are NOT allowed to ask
Landlords cannot ask questions that infringe on your rights under the Human Rights Code for your province. Examples of these questions are:
- What is your current marital status?
- What is your ethnic background?
- What is your religion?
- What is your sexual orientation?
- Will you have visitors?
- Do you have children? Do you plan to have children?
What information does a landlord require to run a credit check?
To run a credit check, landlords need your first & last name, address and date of birth. They are also required to ask for verbal or written permission to share this information with credit reporting agencies in order to obtain your credit score.
Do I need to provide my Social Insurance Number?
Landlords are allowed to ask for your SIN but you are not required to provide it. They are not allowed to refuse your application if you decline to provide your SIN. They’re also required to inform you that it is not a condition of service. Your SIN is not required to run a credit check.
Are landlords allowed to ask for my driver’s license, passport or notice of income tax assessment?
Landlords who ask to see your passport, drivers license and/or notice of income tax assessment are trying to confirm your identity, address and income. They are checking that your photo and name match up, and that the address on your ID is the same as the one on your credit report.
However, if this information were to fall into the wrong hands it could also be used to commit identity theft. Although landlords are allowed to ask for this information, you are not required to provide it. Make sure you are confident of their identity before handing over such sensitive documents. If you can’t confirm their legitimacy with a Google search, politely explain that in this ‘digital age’ you are very careful about your privacy and would like to be able to confirm their identity in return.
What if my landlord is demanding information or asking questions that I don’t want to answer?
If a landlord asks a question that falls under one of the categories outlined in Code of Human Rights, you can politely remind them of this fact. Particularly if they are a small independent landlord, chances are they don’t know they’re doing anything wrong.
If they demand answers as a condition of renting, if you need more information, or if you think you have been discriminated against based on one of these factors, contact an advocacy agency in your province or territory (below). You may also wish to reconsider whether this is someone you really wish to have as a landlord.