When you make an application for a rental unit, or when you first enter into a rental agreement, your prospective landlord may ask you for some personal information. It’s important to know what personal information your landlord can collect.
The law that covers personal information for tenants is the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA). This page contains some general information about that law and what personal information landlords can collect. For more information, you can visit the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada website or contact their Information Centre at 1-800-282-1376. For information specific to the landlord and tenant relationship, you can take a look at Privacy in the landlord and tenant relationship.
General Rules for Landlords
- Your landlord generally must obtain your consent when they collect, use or disclose your personal information.
- Your landlord must identify the reasons for collecting your personal information. Your landlord should ensure that these purposes are limited to what a reasonable person would consider appropriate under the circumstances.
- Your landlord must allow you to access the personal information that they have about you. You must be allowed to challenge the accuracy of this if you do not think the information is correct.
- Your landlord can only use your personal information for the purposes it was collected for.
- Your landlord is responsible for ensuring your personal information is protected.
Credit Check and Other Information
A credit check will give your prospective landlord information about your ability to afford your rent. Your prospective landlord may ask you for some personal information to complete a credit check.
Your prospective landlord must have your consent to share your personal information with any third party, including with a credit reporting agency, for a credit check.
To run a credit check, your prospective landlord needs:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your date of birth
Your potential landlord may also ask for your driver’s license, passport, employer, tax information, income and expenses on a rental application. This information is not needed for a credit check but may allow your landlord to obtain a more detailed report from organizations that offer credit checks, or ensure you are not confused with someone with a similar name and date of birth.
Your potential landlord can ask for this information, but it is important that they identify why they need it, who else they will report it to and any risk of harm to you. You can ask questions about why certain documents are needed and, if necessary, suggest alternatives which could achieve the same goal.
Social Insurance Number
Your social insurance number (SIN) is a confidential number. You are not required to provide your SIN unless your landlord can show that your SIN is required for a specific and legitimate purpose. However, there is no law preventing landlords from asking you for your SIN.
If a prospective landlord asks for your SIN, you can ask why the landlord needs it, how it will be used and to whom it will be given.
If the landlord insists you must give it, you can consider filing a complaint with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
For more information, see the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada resources on privacy and social insurance numbers.