Acting Information and Privacy Commissioner Drew McArthur is investigating whether landlords in British Columbia are asking prospective tenants for too much personal information.
“My office receives several calls each week from individuals who have been asked by potential landlords for sensitive personal information including medical data, T4 slips, or copies of bank statements,” said McArthur. “Low vacancy rates in Victoria and Vancouver create a significant power imbalance in favour of landlords, so renters are reluctant to assert their privacy rights and jeopardize their housing options. Landlords, whether renting a basement suite or managing a multi-unit complex, are subject to B.C.’s privacy laws. They may need to verify identity or employment income, but they may only collect what is reasonable. They cannot ask for whatever personal information they want.”
The Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for B.C. has guidelines for landlords and tenants online at oipc.bc.ca/guidance/guidance-documents/
For this investigation, the Acting Commissioner asked several private sector landlords and rental management companies what information they require from renters and how, specifically, they use that information. The Commissioner also requested information from several public sector landlords, including B.C. Housing, the Capital Regional Housing Corporation, and Metro Vancouver.
When complete, the report will be available online: oipc.bc.ca