What kind of questions can a landlord ask?

Many landlords will ask you to complete an application form before they will rent an apartment or house to you.

Sometimes, rental application forms contain very sensitive questions, such as a bank account number, proof of income and more.

Questions a landlord can ask

A landlord can ask questions related to the tenancy so long as they don’t infringe on your rights:

They can ask questions such as:

  • What is your income?
  • Do you work? Where do you work?
  • How many people will be living with you and what are their names?
  • Could you provide permission for a credit check?
  • Could you provide me with references of past landlords?
  • Do you have a pet?*
*A landlord can ask if you have a pet and can refuse renting a place to you based on what you respond. But according to section 14 of the Residential Tenancies Act a landlord cannot put a clause in your rental contract prohibiting you from owning a pet. This would be voided in a court case. 

The pet exception to this is for condominiums. The condo board can write a clause that prevents owners and renters of their building from having pets. 

If you move into a rental property (non-condo) without a pet but get a pet once you are moved in, the landlord cannot evict you based on owning a pet. This is against Ontario laws.

Questions a landlord cannot ask

Landlords cannot ask you personal questions that interfere with your rights under the Ontario Human Rights Code. Therefore, questions about age, disability, place of origin, religion, family status, sexual orientation, gender expression and other Human Rights grounds are not allowed.

They cannot ask question such as:

  • Are you pregnant?
  • Do you plan to have (more) children?
  • Are you married, single, or divorced?
  • What is your ethnic background or religion?
  • What is your sexual orientation?
  • Do you receive public assistance?
  • How old are you?
  • Are you a Canadian citizen?
  • Do you smoke?
Note: While a landlord is not allowed to ask if you smoke they can still provide you a lease that states that the property you are renting is non-smoking. If you sign a non-smoking lease they cannot immediately evict you for smoking. If you break the non-smoking clause you will likely receive warnings before an eviction notice. 

Can a landlord ask for my Social Insurance Number (SIN)?

Many landlords want to check your credit rating before they will rent you an apartment. Many people think that a SIN is necessary for this process, but according to Equifax, a Canadian Credit Bureau, this is not true. A landlord can check your credit history with your full name,current address and birth date (if you are willing to give them that information).

This means that giving out your SIN for credit purposes is optional.

If a landlord is demanding that you provide them with your SIN, you can either refuse and maybe not get that apartment, or ask them how they will protect your SIN in their records, so that it is not easily accessible.

Find out more about how your SIN is used and who can ask for it.

Fill out the application form as completely as possible.

If the form is not complete, the landlord may use this as an excuse not to rent to you. For example, if you have no Canadian landlord references, do not leave that part of the application blank - write that you are a newcomer and have no Canadian references.

If you have a reference from your country of origin, offer it to the landlord. Completing the form fully will allow you to challenge the landlord if you are turned down unfairly.

If you are having trouble completing the application, ask the landlord or rental agent if you can take it away and bring it back later. That way you can have a friend or community worker help you complete the form. To find help in your area, go to Services Near Me.

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Last updated: March 18, 2021 4001275