The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) governs how landlords collect, use and disclose personal information of their tenants. Generally, this means obtaining a tenant’s consent and having a reasonable purpose for the collection, use, and disclosure of personal information.
When a landlord collects personal information from tenants, the landlord must notify tenants of the purpose for the collection. A landlord must also protect the personal information in their custody or control by implementing safeguards to prevent unauthorized access, use, disclosure, loss, destruction, copying or modification.
It is rental housing industry best practices to ensure strict adherence to PIPA, and as the professional association representing landlords in British Columbia, LandlordBC expends considerable time and energy plus, the provision of education tools like our Landlord Registry™, to transfer knowledge to our members (and the broader industry should they elect to take advantage of it) on their rights and responsibilities as it pertains to the collection, use and disclosure of personal information of tenants.
Credit checks are critical to the provision of secure rental housing. The notion that credit checks should not be done as a matter of “routine requirement” ignores the reality of the provision of secure rental housing. The credit check is one of the only tools that a landlord has to screen tenants. This is particularly true for small landlords (the secondary market…basements suites and the such), who disproportionately represent the rental housing industry in BC. They cannot endure bad debt and vacancies caused by poorly screened tenants like an institutional landlord. Any suggestion in regard to tenant screening that the only information landlords need is proof of identification and, possibly, proof of income, is wildly unreasonable. Concerns about non-payment of rent are completely legitimate and are best addressed through the verification of the applicant’s credit history. This information is of course collected only with the applicant’s proper written consent and must be secured through a registered credit bureau.
“Credit checking through a registered agency like ours is less likely to have negative impact on a tenant’s credit status, no matter how many potential landlords are screening the same individual,” explained Brenda Maxwell of Rentcheck Credit Bureau Ltd., a long-time provider of fully-detailed credit reports and basic credit scoring. She emphasized that to ensure tenant safety, all Rentcheck Credit Bureau Ltd. member landlords “meet rigorous registration and identity verification criteria, including proof of PIPA compliance.”
If you are a landlord you can learn more about your rights and responsibilities under PIPA by reviewing the privacy guidelines for BC found at this link: https://www.oipc.bc.ca/guidance-documents/1456. We also encourage you to educate yourself about the Residential Tenancy Act and professional landlording by getting registered at www.landlordregistry.ca. To learn more about Rentcheck Credit Bureau Ltd. services contact LandlordBC or visit www.rentcheckcorp.com