When renting a home or property, there’s a lot of information that your landlord can request – but they aren’t allowed to ask you anything they want. In Canada, we all have human rights. This means that there are laws surrounding what a landlord can and cannot ask you.
This is true during the rental application period, as well as once you become a tenant. Let’s look at the standard rental application process in Canada and go over some things that your landlord can and cannot legally ask you.
What Information can Landlords Request for a Rental Application?
A rental application is something that you fill out when applying for a rental property. These are what you fill out if you want to be considered to rent a specific property, be it a condominium, an apartment, a house, or another type of dwelling.
In your application, you will be requested to share certain information with the landlord. The landlord may request information such as:
- Your name
- Your rental history
- Your employment history
- Your current employment situation
- Consent of a credit check
In Canada, it is entirely legal for a landlord to run a credit check before agreeing to rent out a property. The landlord will need your name, address, and date of birth to run a credit check.
They may also request your social insurance number. This is legal; however, you are not required by law to provide it. A landlord may use this information to assist with credit checks, but there is different information that they can use if providing your SIN makes you uncomfortable.
Other things a landlord can ask for in an application include:
- Former addresses
- Email address
- Drivers Licence Numbers
- Educational History
- Criminal Background Checks
- Emergency Contact Information
- Debt Information
- Supporting Financial Documents
Can a landlord ask for bank statements?
Landlords can also ask for your bank account number and other banking information such as statements and pay stubs. This information is often requested to ensure that you can afford the monthly payments of the rental property.
Again, you are not legally required to provide this information, though it may affect the landlord’s willingness to rent to you.
Can Landlords ask if I have a Pet?
Though this is a very touchy subject in Canada, yes, landlords can ask if you have pets. To date, there are no legal documents or stipulations that suggest otherwise.
This means that a landlord can turn away an applicant or potential tenant if they do not want pets in their dwelling.
With that being said, section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act states that a landlord cannot prohibit the presence of pets within a dwelling. They cannot, for instance, tell you that there are “no pets allowed”.
Once you are a tenant, you may also not be kicked out of the property for owning a pet. Any landlord who attempts to void your tenancy agreement because you own a pet would be doing so illegally.
So while a tenant can technically turn away an applicant for having a pet, they legally aren’t supposed to. Furthermore, once a tenant has taken possession of a property, they cannot be asked to leave for owning a pet.
Can a Landlord Ask if you are on Public Assistance?
No. Section 10 of the Residential Tenancies Act states that all landlords must comply with the Human Rights Code. Within this code, tenants or potential tenants may not be discriminated against based on their receipt of public assistance.
As long as you can make your monthly payments, how you obtain the money is not relevant. Therefore, a landlord may not ask whether you are on public assistance during or after the application process.
What Can a Landlord not ask for in a Rental Application?
Of course, as humans in Canada, we all have our own fundamental human rights. For this reason, there are certain things that a landlord cannot ask you for.
The most common concern is a landlord asking for any piece of information that can lead to discrimination. This is not allowed.
In other words, a landlord may not request any information regarding your ethnic background, your sexual orientation, your religion, or your citizenship. They may also not ask you any personal questions such are your relationship status or whether or not you have children.
What Can a Landlord do with my Information?
Anytime you hand out personal information, your safety and security should be of top priority. Never hand out personal information to someone that you do not trust.
Landlords who are given access to your personal information are required by law to follow specific guidelines for keeping that information secure.
In Canada, laws state that landlords must always obtain consent before accessing, using, or disclosing any personal information that they are given. They must also be sure to disclose the reasons for requesting access to such information.
For example, if a landlord should ask for a bank statement, they must disclose what they wish to use that information for.
Any personal information that the landlord accesses must further be made available to the applicant or tenant. If, for example, the landlord requests a credit score based on the tenant’s behalf, this information must be made available to the tenant if requested.
Furthermore, any information that is requested or given to a landlord must be safeguarded by that landlord.
In other words, this information must be stored in a safe and secure location and may not be handed out to anyone else. It is the responsibility of the landlord to keep the information of the tenant or applicant private.
What Should I do if a Landlord Requests Information that is Against the Law?
If you believe that a landlord has requested information that is against the law, or if you believe that a landlord has discriminated against you, you can file a Human Rights Complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Canada.
There may also be individual Human Rights Tribunals based on which province you are located in.