Credit: Pixabay

Opinion: Landlords request too much information

With Kelowna’s low vacancy rate, landlords are taking advantage of tenant’s personal information

Cities like Vancouver and Victoria aren’t the only ones suffering from snoopy landlords.

A month ago, my boyfriend and I got a taste of Kelowna’s low vacancy rate as we searched for an apartment, competing, according to ad views, against hundreds of other potential renters.

The biggest shock wasn’t the competition however, it was the feeling of being exposed.

A landlord who owned an apartment in the Lower Mission requested to see our social insurance numbers and annual salary.

Coming from smaller communities where the stakes weren’t so high, we left more than a few blanks in our application as we refused to fill out optional requests for SIN numbers and “required” questions of income.

A few weeks later, our application was deemed “incomplete.”

According to Andrew Sakamoto, executive director for the Tenant Resource and Advisory Centre, landlords shouldn’t be asking for SIN numbers, banking information, credit cards, criminal records, or taking copies of driver’s licenses.

“A landlord is allowed to feel confident that a tenant will be able to pay their rent. They’re allowed to ask permission to run a credit report,” he said. “The fact that landlords are asking for all of this personal information and tenants are providing it, is sort of a symptom of this rental housing crisis that’s plaguing our society.”

Sakamoto also has a first-hand experience of dealing with the issue. He said he provided his SIN number to to a landlord in order to secure the tenancy.

“I know a lot of other tenants in the same boat,” he said. “With vacancy rates so low and competition so high, there’s a lot of desperation for housing.”

According to acting deputy commissioner Bradley Weldon at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner, landlords can only request “necessary” information from a tenant.

“There is no reason for a landlord to request more information with a reputable reference,” said Weldon. More information should only be requested if a reference isn’t available and should be only required to determine if the individual is capable of paying the rent, he said.

“The amount of information you collect, should escalate as you have reason to escalate it. But what we’re seeing instead is one size fits all application forms that treat an individual who has a 10-year positive reference from a landlord…the same as someone who has no background whatsoever and there’s reason to believe they might not be able to make their rent payments,” he said.

The privacy commissioner is currently investigating both private and commercial landlords which was announced after the large number of inquiries it received about tenant privacy rights. The investigation should wrap up in about three to four months, said Weldon.

To access information on tenant and landlord rights visit www.oipc.bc.ca.

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Lake Country bridge club supports those in need

Lake Country club challenges others to also donate money to the community

Police searching for GoPro owner

Police are looking for the owner of a GoPro seized by police in Kelowna

RCMP search for knife-wielding robber

Police in Kelowna release store surveillance images of an aggressive shoplifting suspect

Central Okanagan needs to develop shared vision when it involves mental health

A Lake Country resident presented her project about mental health and substance use

Kids, the great outdoors and technology

UBCO study says send your kids outside but let them take their electronic devices

Tattooing couple opens new shop in Lake Country

Cody and Fabiana Philpott opened NSI Tattoo in August

Stiff fine for B.C. man caught trafficking bear parts

A Cache Creek resident was charged after an undercover sting operation by conservation officers

Big White to open with three chairlifts

Tickets are 50 per cent off for opening day

One person sent to hospital after fire near Keremeos

Fire ripped through a shed and Winnebego at Sunkatchers RV Park Co-operative

Vandals pour fake blood on statues at B.C. church

Church members concerned about string of acts of vandalism and possible escalation

Vernon high school theatre reignites classic pirate tale

Seaton Secondary’s 27th Street Theatre Co. presents The Pirates of Penzance Dec. 5-9 and 12-16.

B.C. snow plow operator helps save elderly man

The 73-year-old man had fallen at his isolated home, and finally was able to call for help

Curtis Sagmoen to appear in Vernon court

The man associated with an Silver Creek farm where human remains were found last month is set to appear in court

Wildlife group challenges B.C.’s interpretation of law on destroying bears

Fur-Bearers are challenging a conservation officer’s decision to kill a bear cub near Dawson Creek

Most Read