Owning rental property is a great concept for building wealth, but requires a lot of hard work, patience and planning.
Personal Information Protection Act for Tenants and Landlords in BC
The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) governs the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
What are a Landlordís responsibilities under PIPA?
PIPA governs how Landlords collect, use and disclose personal information of their Tenants. Generally, this means obtaining a Tenantís consent and having a reasonable purpose for the collection, use and disclosure of personal information.
Landlords must notify Tenants of their purpose for the collection of personal information. A Landlord must also protect Tenant information in the Landlordís custody or control by adopting safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, use, disclosure, loss, destruction, copying or modification.
A Landlord must respond to a Tenantís request for access to their personal information by providing the Tenant with copies of records in the Landlordís possession or control that contain the Tenantís personal information. Upon request, a Landlord must also tell the Tenant how their personal information has been used and to whom it has been disclosed. However, the Landlord must not disclose someone elseís personal information to the Tenant. Landlords are also required to familiarize themselves with PIPA and to adopt policies and procedures to ensure their compliance to it.
What is personal information?
PIPA defines personal information as "information about an identifiable individual and includes employee personal information Ö". This can mean any number of things such as a name, date of birth, phone number, address, height, weight, eye colour, social insurance number (SIN), driverís license number, banking information, income, photograph, etc.
Can a Landlord disclose one Tenantís personal information to another Tenant without consent?
No. Generally PIPA requires that Landlords obtain the consent of their Tenants before disclosing personal information to other Tenants. There may be instances, such as in a serious emergency, where this would be permissible. Landlords should make every effort to protect the privacy of their tenants and prevent disclosure of their personal information.
Can a Landlord ask for a Tenantís roommateís personal information?
Although only the Tenant on the tenancy agreement is responsible for payment of rent and damages, it is reasonable for a Landlord to document the names of people living on their property, but it is not necessary for each roommate to provide their banking information or other personal information.
Can a Landlord ask to see a Tenantís identification?
Yes. Typically, a Landlordís purpose for requesting to examine identification is simply to verify a Tenantís identity when entering into a rental or tenancy agreement and such a requirement is reasonable. Given that a Landlord must be able to properly identify a Tenant in the event that damage is caused to the property, an emergency occurs, or the Tenant does not honour the lease, it may be reasonable to authenticate a Tenantís identity.
Can a Landlord ask for a Tenantís pay-slip or T4?
If a Landlord has legitimate concerns about a Tenantís ability to make regular payment of rent, then it may be reasonable for the Landlord to request proof of financial capacity from the Tenant. A Tenant should be able to provide one of any number of documents that reasonably confirm income, such as a letter from the Tenantís employer. Tenants may consider removing information from the form that the Landlord does not require, such as their social insurance number. In cases where subsidized-housing rent payments are based on income, it is not unreasonable for a Landlord to request sufficiently detailed proof of income and expenses, but the Landlord should only collect personal information that is necessary.
Can a Landlord request a credit report from a Tenant?
A Landlord must have a reasonable purpose for doing so and communicate that to the Tenant. If the Landlord has concerns about non-payment of rent and therefore must verify an applicantís credit history, this may be a reasonable practice. Pursuant to both the Business Practices and Consumer Protection Act and PIPA, a landlord must obtain the Tenantís consent before ordering a credit report.
Can a Landlord request a tenantís credit card number?
A Landlord cannot request a Tenantís credit card information as a condition of renting a property. Obviously if the parties agree to process rent payments by credit card, a Tenant would consent and supply his or her credit card number to the Landlord.
Can a Landlord use a Tenantís personal information to collect an unpaid debt?
Yes, once a Tenantís account is in arrears, PIPA permits the Landlordís use of personal information without consent for the purposes of collecting a debt, including unpaid rent, fees and utilities, costs to repair damage caused by the tenant or monies ordered to be paid by the Tenant by a dispute resolution officer. The Landlord must still use the information only to the extent that is reasonable.
Can a Landlord request to check a tenantís criminal record?
No, a Landlord cannot as a condition of renting or providing any service to a Tenant, ask for consent to collect personal information beyond what is necessary to provide tenancy or that service. Requiring a criminal records check is not reasonably necessary.