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You Want WHAT Information

So one of my daughters wants to rent a new place. This place seems to be akin to Fort Knox or some other high-security establishment. Not only do they want a Guarantor to sign on the dotted line that they will be responsible for the rent should there be any problems with the renter(s) (i.e. my daughter), they also want my:

  • Social Insurance Number
  • Driver’s License Number
  • Banking Information for an account, which I assume they will attempt to extract unpaid rent from.

They want this information to do a “Credit Check” on the Guarantor, and my big question is: what else will you do with this information? How will you keep it safe?

Why This Information?

I have checked on-line and one site claims that asking for a SIN number is an optional thing (as is the Driver’s License Number, in my opinion). A Credit check can be done with my name, date of birth and such. The Government of Canada Services website says Who can ask for my SIN and who don’t. Now the site does go to lengths to say it is not Illegal to ask for your SIN. However, they discourage you to give out this information.

I was in an interesting quandary. I understand that the Landlord (a corporation) does not trust my daughter. She was young and had no real Financial Background that they could check. They wanted someone trustworthy to stand up and say, “Yes I am the money behind this young lady” (or something like that). Why must I give them all this information to prove I am trustworthy?

My guess is, if I say, NO, to this invasion of my privacy, that my daughter will not get this rental unit. I may end up capitulating, but not before I ask the Landlord for a written assurance (signed by them) that this information will be protected, an explanation of how it will be stored (and maybe who has access to it), and finally an explanation of when and why this information will be used.

My daughter may not talk to me for a while if she does not get this rental unit.

Am I being unreasonable here? Any landlords out there care to comment on whether this is a common practice. I have not rented anywhere in 24 years.

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Even better, I just filled in one of these things for a company that my company is subcontracting into.

    I noticed a disclaimer that absolves the company AND its credit agency for any problems that might arise from them having, using or I guess mis-using the information. So not only do they want my SIN, driver license etc, but they want to walk away from their responsibilities if it goes bad.

    So on advice they are getting no SIN, and the drivers license photocopy has the master number blacked out. I also crossed out the waivers. If this goes west I want someone feeling some of the pain.

  2. The forms I use are from a credit processing company, and I don’t have them near me right now. I’m not sure what they state about keeping the submitted info safe. And I do struggle with this a little.

    1. I’d like to keep a copy, even for tenants we don’t select as proof if there is any question about the validity and authorization to do a credit check.

    2. I don’t really want this info once I’ve used it for credit check purposes (especially if the tenant wasn’t selected / is no longer living in the apartment).

    I do my best to keep this information safe. I think it’s time to go back through my old files. Keep the forms but redact the parts (Sin / Driver’s License / Bank account info) that we don’t need anymore. Nothing a good sharpie marker can’t cure 🙂

    BCM, I do understand where you’re coming from. If I was on the other side (filling out the form), I’d have the same reservations.

    1. I think if you could somehow convince folks that you were going to destroy the data once you have used it, that might make it simpler for Landlords too.

      I have enough friends that ARE Landlords that I realize that I NEVER want to be one, given the horror stories they tell, so I empathize about the information, I just think (in Canada) asking for a Social Insurance Number is too much (it’s not illegal, but it is frowned upon by the government agencies that rely on that number).

  3. I’m a small landlord, and I ask for all of this info. Will I deny an application without it: no, but it makes the whole process more difficult and time consuming when I don’t have it.

    The SIN is always optional. But it along with the Driver’s license helps to do the credit check. The bank account info is solely to go after in the case of arrears. I’ve never had to go after funds in a bank account, but the process isn’t simple from what I understand.

    I think it takes going to court to get a judgment against the tenant for back rent. Most times it’s probably not worth the effort (for the small guy). The big REITS probably have the process down to a science and won’t hesitate to go after you in court for back rent / damages to the unit / other costs incurred to the landlord outside of the normal maintenance (utility bills transferred to taxes for example because the tenant didn’t pay)

    Think of it like this: I’m lending you a MAJOR asset of mine for a monthly fee. If you damage it (and costing me a ton of $$$ to fix) or don’t pay me the rent on time, it hurts. I need to get as much info as possible to protect myself if things go bad.

    (Small time landlord in Ontario)

    1. Good explanation, do you include a statement about how you will keep this information “safe”? That might help a lot of anxiety in your rentals as well (that is my major concern, is I am handing sensitive information to someone who is making no statement to me about how this information will be kept safe).

  4. Hey,

    I had the same issue. What I did was pull my own credit check and provide it to the landlord.

    No way would I give the SIN number. Bank account number you can change anytime….

  5. The issue for those REIT landlords I think is that, more often than not, even if you get a claim awarded by the Landlord Tenant Board, enforcement is challenging against ‘poorly-resourced’ tenants — which is the kind of tenant you’ll typically have the most trouble with.

    On the other hand, the housing bubble has created an entirely new class of petit bourgeois absentee landlords (typically with between zero and 10% equity) who have no idea what they are doing and think that an obscenely over-intrusive rental package is a panacea against bad tenants. More likely, a bad tenant will just lie on the app and a good tenant will be scared off. You’re not the only responsible adult to think the intrusiveness is absolutely obscene. It doesn’t indemnify the REIT or owner; it’s just going to open them up to identity theft claims.

  6. I think your best option is to rent a place with an uneducated landlord. The tenatns in Ontario is protected so much to a point that the landlords are their preys. The tenatns can, if they want,to shop paying for the rent altogether after a few month and play some trick to the landlord to make their lives miserable. The landlord cannot cut the hydro or water or anything. They still have to pay for the mortgage and property tax. If the tenants complain, the landlord still have to repair whatever the tenants want them to repair even though they are not paying any rent. Renting to student spell to high maintenance and trouble. They do not care much about anything because they do not have much to lose.
    If you find an uneducated landlord, you probaby get away with the SIN number. you may not even need to have any credit check done.
    The landlords are being so careful because Ontario treat them like a dog.

  7. Did you read the fine print in the legal part of the application? Maybe it says that you grant them the right to make withdrawals from the bank account (or credit card account).

    I have started to wonder if it is better to sell my house and rent with housing prices so high relative to rents, but maybe the hassles of dealing with a REIT landlord change the equation.

  8. My only comment is at, having been a landlord, once somebody is in your property, the only way to extract them (even if they don’t pat rent for months) is to stir up some sort of world war and paint a huge target on the roof of the building, then pray that one side or the other has good aim.

    And it is not just the rent. An unhappy tennent can cause a lot of damage on her way out.

    Does that make it reasonable to ask for all this information? Maybe, maybe not.

  9. BCM- this is so funny, my son is switching from a house he has shared the last couple years to an apartment. The Landloard is a REIT, probably the same or similar to your situation and this weekend he hands me this massive application form I have to sign. They also wanted my credit card info as well as my SIN etc. I caved on the SIN but told my son no way to the credit card info, but he said he will probably lose the place. I left it off the application, but gave him the info. in case they pursue it. It is totally ridiculous, since if I sign as a guarantor, I am on the hook anyways. The problem is at the end of the day, so many institutions and companies have this info, I am not sure privacy matters anymore.

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