Questioning from landlords is to be expected when you’re putting in a rental application, but when do the questions start to cross a line? Some landlords may try to ask too much when you’re applying for a rental, and they could use the answers to discriminate against you when considering your application. Here are the types of questions landlords can ask, along with what they can’t.
Okay: Your finances. Landlords are legally allowed to ask about your income, your employment status, and your consent to perform a credit check. These kinds of questions are to make sure that you can pay the rent each month and have a history of making payments on time. However, landlords do not need your Social Insurance Number to perform a credit check, and they are not allowed to ask for it. The only things required for a credit check are your name, address and date of birth, though a landlord may ask for additional information that can provide a more detailed check.
Not Okay: Your family or marital status. Though it may just seem like a conversational question while applying, questions such as “are you single?”, “do you plan on having kids?”, or “are the two of you married?” are all questions that could lead to discrimination. Some landlords may not want to rent to single women, or want to keep their building child-free, but these questions violate your rights under your province’s Human Rights Act, which protects against this kind of discrimination.
Okay: Who is moving in? Since the building is their property, a landlord is allowed to ask about who is going to be living in the unit. They can ask how many residents there will be, as well as their names, but shouldn’t ask for their ages. Additionally, a landlord can ask for references from previous landlords, or for a guarantor or co-signer. References provide peace of mind to the landlord that you’ll be a good tenant, and a guarantor or co-signer may be asked for if you’re renting for the first time or have a poor credit history.
Not Okay: Your religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or gender. Once again, these types of questions violate your rights under the Human Rights Act. Though these questions can be phrased conversationally, it can lead to discrimination if the landlord doesn’t want to rent to people of your faith, ethnicity, sexuality or gender. You are never required to answer questions about these topics.