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3.14 Personal Information

The law has recently changed. TRAC’s page on Personal Information says the following:

 

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.