A privacy watchdog says B.C. landlords generally collect too much personal information from prospective tenants.
Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur published the findings of an investigation that collected info from 13 landlords going through the process of finding a tenant.
“Rentals make up 30% of housing in B.C. Near-zero vacancy rates throughout the province have created a competitive market where landlords can ask prospective tenants for sensitive personal information as justification for seeking the ‘best’ tenant,” said McArthur in a release. “Unfortunately, many applicants feel they have no choice but to provide this information to avoid missing out on a place to live.”
McArthur states the Personal Information Protection Information Act protects tenants from having to give up info like detailed bank statements and credit checks.
“Low vacancy rates may prompt landlords to believe they can collect whatever information they want from prospective tenants,” said McArthur in a release. “In some cases, landlords required applicants to provide months’ worth of detailed bank statements, or for consent to conduct a credit check, or for information protected by the Human Rights Code, such as marital status. In most instances, requiring this type of information would violate B.C. privacy laws.”
McArthur makes several recommendations for landlords:
* limit the amount of required personal information on tenant application forms;
* clearly state the specific purpose for the collection of personal information from prospective tenants;
* require a credit check only when a prospective tenant cannot provide sufficient references about previous tenancies or satisfactory employment and income verification; and
* never collect information from social media platforms or internet search engines.