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3.14 Personal Information

The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for BC (OIPC BC) provides direction about disclosure of personal information.  They have a very useful document called “Privacy Guidelines for Landlords and Tenants, Frequently Asked Questions”.  It states that “a landlord can only request the information necessary to make a decision about whether or not to rent property to the applicant.” 

Some examples of information the document considers “necessary” are references from past landlords, proof of lawful source of income, and contact information.  You should review the document yourself, but generally speaking, the following list contains personal information that is NOT reasonable for a landlord to collect:

  • Health Card Number
  • Social Insurance Number
  • Passport Number
  • Sensitive Banking Information
  • Credit Card Information
  • Consent to undergo a criminal record check
  • Driver's License / Photo ID (a landlord can ask to look at your ID to prove identity, but should not keep a photocopy)

That’s a tricky question. It can be difficult to know what to do when a landlord starts asking questions that are too personal.  On the one hand, you may not want to share information that you consider private.  On the other hand, you don’t want to look like you’re hiding anything and ruin your chances of securing a tenancy.

Keep in mind that many landlords do not know the rules around disclosure of personal information and may ask questions without knowing they have crossed the line. For example, many landlords believe they need your Social Insurance Number to complete a credit check when, in fact, all they need is your full name and date of birth.

If you are not comfortable sharing your Social Insurance Number, consider politely saying something like the following:        

“I don’t want you to think I’m being difficult, but the rental course I took said that BC’s privacy laws don’t allow landlords to ask for Social Insurance Numbers. I’m really interested in this property and I have all my documents with me.  Is it okay with you if I submit my application without filling in that information?”     

If a potential landlord insists on collecting unreasonable personal information, that may be a sign that they will continue to invade your privacy or otherwise disregard the law once you move in.  At that point, you may want to consider walking away.