Information about you
Personal Information and Disclosure
Landlords are not supposed to ask prospective tenants for more information than they need, but a recent investigation found that they often ask for too much personal information. So what questions are landlords allowed to ask, and what questions do you need to answer?
- Landlords are always allowed to ask for your name and proof of identity (but they may not make a copy of your ID), contact information, information about current and past experiences of renting housing, and one or more references from a previous landlord as needed. They can also ask about pets and whether you are currently experiencing bedbugs or other types of infestation. They may ask about your criminal history, but they need to provide a good reason for doing so.
- After asking these basic questions, if a landlord does not have enough information about your history of paying rent (i.e., your ability to pay rent has not been established), they can ask for proof of income or employment. If this information cannot be verified, then a landlord may ask for consent to a credit check. This is the only time that a landlord can ask for a person’s Social Insurance Number, and even then, a person may choose to provide only their name and birth date in order to have the credit check run.
- You are not required to tell a landlord that you have HIV. You do not need to tell a landlord why you receive monthly welfare or a rental subsidy, if you have one. (There are some exceptions for housing designated for specific groups, such as people living with HIV, where this information is required in order to determine eligibility.)
- You are always allowed to ask why a landlord wants a certain piece of information.
- If you’re wondering if the landlord is allowed to ask a particular question, you can check this resource from BC’s information and privacy commissioner.
According to Section 10 of the BC Human Rights Code, a landlord may not refuse to rent to you or treat you badly because of race, colour, ancestry, place of origin, religion, marital status, family status, physical or mental disability, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age (for those 19 years and older), or legal source of income. (Again, there are exceptions for housing designated for specific groups, which can only be rented to people in those groups.)
- This means that landlords are not legally allowed to discriminate against people because of their HIV status.
- It also means that landlords are not supposed to discriminate against people who receive monthly welfare.
- Although landlords can limit the number of people allowed to live in a rental unit, they are not allowed to refuse to rent to someone because that person has children, may have children in the future, or is pregnant. (There are exceptions for housing designated for specific groups, such as people 55 or older.)
- If you sense that a landlord is concerned because you receive monthly welfare, you can try explaining that it is a reliable source of income that the landlord can depend on.
- If you believe you have been unfairly discriminated against, talk to a support worker. You can contact the BC Human Rights Clinic for assistance if you are interested in filing a complaint.