Complaints about nosy landlords on the rise

June 12, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

Like many Torontonians in search of a home, Katy Schuyler would do almost anything to secure a coveted one-bedroom apartment downtown. Nevertheless, she doesn't think handing over a record of her last 30 bank transactions should be part of the deal.

"I don't even bother scheduling appointments with places like that because that's beyond intrusive," Schuyler said. "You don't need to see what I spend my money on."

Schuyler joins a growing number of people in the GTA concerned about landlords asking for too much personal information as they hunt for affordable housing in a red-hot real-estate market.

There's been a sharp rise in the number of public complaints about landlord and tenant issues made to Canada's privacy commissioner. In 2012, the commissioner recorded nine of them across the country. In 2017, that number shot up to 48. In the GTA they're also up, from six complaints to 20 over the same period.

Landlord and tenant issues are also commanding a larger proportion of the commission's time. In 2012, they made up just four per cent of all complaints accepted for investigation in the GTA, but that number rose to 13 per cent as of last year.

The "majority of recent complaints," spokesperson Tobi Cohen wrote in an email, were about "use and disclosure of personal information and consent."

Those include "allegations that a landlord or property manager disclosed personal information to other tenants, other property managers, realtors etc.; complaints related to the collection of information such as driver's licences and social insurance numbers for rental applications; and the use of video surveillance cameras," she said.

In response to the increase, the commissioner issued new guidance to landlords and tenants in April.It outlines what landlords are entitled to ask for and clarifies their responsibilities under federal privacy legislation, which includes obtaining consent to collect private information and ensuring the information is protected.

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