How far can you go to check out a prospective tenant? With the recent Facebook scandal, people are becoming more sensitive about protecting their personal information – and rightly so.
As a landlord, you need to strike a balance between collecting enough information to make an informed decision, and respecting the privacy of your potential renter. You have a duty to collect only the information you need, and to keep that information secure.
What can you ask?
You can ask to see proof of identity, but you cannot photocopy it, or record the numbers of driver’s licenses, passports or Health Services cards, etc.
You can ask how many occupants will be living in the suite and what their names are – and you can limit the number of occupants allowed in the suite. You cannot ask a person what their marital status or sexual orientation is.
In the eyes of the organizations governing tenant privacy, what you need to know is the total number and names of potential occupants, not their relationship to each other.
You can ask a prospective tenant what their income is, ask them for a pay stub to verify it, and conduct a credit check. But it’s becoming a grey area to ask for banking information or a tax return.
You can ask for references, and emergency and personal contact information, including email addresses and phone numbers. But you must keep that information secure, in a locked cabinet, or in a password-protected file that is protected by a secure firewall.
Ask only what you really need to know
Tenant privacy is covered by regulations in the Residential Tenancy Act and in the Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) – and, with the social media scandals of 2018, those rules are changing, and more cases are being contested.
Unsure what to do? Start by reviewing the questions you currently ask prospective tenants and ask yourself, “What is it that I really need to know? Why am I asking this question?” Take out any language that pries into the applicant’s personal life, and stick to acquiring facts about their identity, ability to pay, previous history as a tenant, and contact information.
We stay on top of changing regulations
One of the advantages of hiring a professional property management company is that we stay up-to-date on issues like these – we study the latest legislation and we constantly adapt our approach to ensure that our clients are covered.
And BTW, it’s not just the rules around collecting personal information that are changing, but overall rules around tenant privacy. Check back in a couple of weeks to read our blog on the topic.
Call us, we’re residential rental specialists: Want to know more about changes to regulations governing tenants’ privacy? Give us a call, at Transpacific Realty Advisors, we have an entire department dedicated to Residential Rental property management.