SIN not required when signing apartment lease

Settled case summary #19

Complaint

A student complained that he was unable to rent an apartment without providing his SIN to the property management firm.

Outcome

The property manager told us that his firm required the SINs of potential renters in order to verify identities, conduct credit checks, and, if necessary, contact collection agencies.  

However, the federal government, in an effort to prevent the SIN from becoming a universal identifier, issued a policy limiting the collection and use of the SIN to specific acts, regulations and programs.  While there is no legislation that prevents organizations from asking for the SIN for other purposes, such as identification, organizations that are subject to the Personal information Protection and Electronic Documents Actmust clearly indicate to the customer that provision of the SIN for identification purposes is optional and not a condition of service.

The manager therefore revised the lease agreement so that a driver’s licence is the only piece of identification required.  He no longer requests SINs from potential lessees.

Upon learning of the changes the property management firm instituted as a result of his complaint, the student and the Office considered the matter to be settled.

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