Rental Basics in Reading>Question Details

Dragonfly_7, Other/Just Looking in Reading, PA

how much information can a prospective landlord ask of you legally?

Asked by Dragonfly_7, Reading, PA Sat Jan 9, 2010

I went to look at an apartment and he wanted to know my drivers license #, bank, credit card balance, childrens names, etc. It seems more than a bit intrusive.

Help the community by answering this question:


As the others say, everything you were asked for was absolutely legal. (Well, the children's names in some cases might be a concern. More on that in a moment.)

Further, all that information is routinely asked. It's not just legal; it's appropriate to be asked. I agree, it's intrusive. Still, the landlord wants to verify that you're who you say you are. You may claim to be Dragonfly_7, but really you're really Housefly_007. The driver's license will help verify that. And the landlord wants to know if you can pay the rent--thus, the financial information.

The children's names are a bit different. There are laws against discriminating against people with children; one way around that is simply to ask for their names. If you supply any names, a discriminating landlord will know, then, that you have children. And it might also touch on other areas of discrimination. Some members of ethnic or religious groups use certain names that other groups don't. For instance, if you said your children's names were Mohammad and Abdulla, you probably would be indicating your religion. Same thing if your kids were named Baruch and Chaim. And perhaps the landlord is trying to discriminate.

Most leases require the names of all adults who'll be living at the address to be listed. I'm not aware of similar policies regarding children.

There's plenty of stuff online regarding housing discrimination. See, for example,

Hope that helps.
3 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 9, 2010
We are currently in the application process for a private home rental thru a realtor. We have provided all info asked and have excellent credit. The realtor has now asked us to provide interior photos of our current home to see how we keep up the house. Is this as invasive as it feels? We are seriously considering backing out of the process.
Flag Mon Mar 2, 2015
Mine asked for a picture of my minor children when I told him they do not have i.d.s. Is that legal?
Flag Sun Sep 21, 2014
Don Tepper, Real Estate Pro in Burke, VA
I am currently looking at a rental application that is asking for ALL of my bank and credit card account numbers and balances, as well as my social security number, driver's license number and date of birth.

I understand they need the social security number and date of birth at least to run a credit check, but I don't see how asking for bank account numbers and balances can possibly be legal. That's like an identity theft do-it-yourself kit.

I've had plenty of shady landlords who I would not trust with information like this, and I don't see how owning property and renting it out should give someone this kind of special rights none of the rest of us have.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 25, 2015
I have had landlords request a background check on tenants before, which they can also do with consent. It may seem invasive and intrusive, but they own the home... they want to make sure everything lines up. Its standard and very normal, in fact you got off pretty easy in comparison to some landlord requests, such as... How far is your commute to work? As if that even matters?!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 6, 2013
Should landlords ask for bank account number? My husband and I are applying for an apartment. We have already given our social security numbers, drivers license and employment information. They are also asking for our bank account number. I feel violated for them even asking them. Do they really even need that since they already have our socials and can pull up a credit report?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 6, 2013
We do LOVE the apartment, don't get me wrong. And the realtor is great we have used her in the past, but this is a brand new building and they are VERY thorough... we'll see what happens in the next day or so. fingers crossed we get it and don't have our identities stolen lol
Flag Mon Oct 28, 2013
I am going through the same thing!! I am applying for an apartment (my wife an I are) and they asked us for ; copy of SS cards, pay stubs, last years tax tax doc.s, credit card number, copy of drivers license, previous landlords name and #, and since our credit is a little extended because of a mortgage that is still on my wife's credit (which we do not pay, her ex does and have documentation backing that up) so we needed a guarantor, so now they have the guarantor fill out an application have it notarized (with all the personal info SS# etc... ) NOW they say they also need proof of assets and proof of income from the guarantor!! talk about violated? And on top of it since we had to put a deposit of 2,675 (one months rent) we will lose it if we backed out, only refundable if they deny us... so we have to continue sending them all of our personal info.. TO BOOT i'm going through a realtor so we sent the info to the realtor then it is forwarded to the landlord. who knows who sees it all
Flag Mon Oct 28, 2013
I have recently applied for an apartment and they wanted my bank account numbers. I am very uncomfortable considering I have had stolen identity when I have provided the information in the past. Not only has this happened once but has happened twice. Can I give them my pay stub. This should be illegal for any company to ask this kind of questions, especially with all the fraud in the world.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Jun 3, 2016
I want to know if my tenants are doing a home birth in my rental house.
I do not approve, what if the baby dies, or the mother. I feel if they sue my homeowners insuance that is so unfair to me.
There is biological hazard issues as well as blood born pathogens issues.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue May 24, 2016
I am really tired of hearing the same old question of "Is it legal" when it comes to asking for ID and information from a prospective tenant. As long as it is not discriminatory and applied equally to all, it is most likely legal. Consider the fact that after viewing a property if a prospective tenant wants to submit an application, they have to supply a copy of drivers license or passport and an application that identfies height, weight, age, etc
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Mar 2, 2016
We have tenants who want us to buy a dishwasher. We did not include the dishwasher in the lease however we did leave it in the kitchen upon renting. Are we obligated to fix or replace an appliance that was not noted in the lease but is still on the property? California is where the property is located.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Oct 2, 2012
Contrary to the other responses, yes, you are in fact obligated to replace any and all attachments that were in the unit at the time the lease or rental agreement was signed. As the tenant is responsible for attachments either mentioned or not that is damaged through misuse or negligence, the leasor is responsible for any and all normal wear and tear. If there was an appliance present at the time of contract, it would be a reasonable assumption that the appliance is included. In the future list all appliances and attachments such as: blinds, curtains, fixtures, responsibilities such as smoke detector batteries or air filters. It may seem excessive but it will protect your investment.
Flag Mon Jul 22, 2013
Oh... california... I am not sure of the rules, but I am still thinking NO.
Flag Thu Jun 6, 2013
NO! If it is not in the lease, it is their problem, they can get their own dishwasher
Flag Thu Jun 6, 2013
Hey Dragonfly, I am a Property Manager for several rental units in the City of Reading, and we pre-screen all applicants to help prevent the loss of an application fee. We ask general income, credit, and rental history questions. We need to know how many "people" will be living in the household. At the time of application, we would ask for a copy of your photo ID, so that we can confirm idientity of the person we are running credit on. At the time of lease signing, we do ask for childrens' names and birth dates, because we need to know "who" is living in the household and "who" should be included as a leaseholder. We would not ask specifically for bank account or debt information, because we would find that on the credit report. If you have any other questions or concerns or need a rental in the Reading area, call me, and I'll be glad to help. 484.256.8409
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jan 14, 2010
Hi Dragon,

I'm a landlord in PA. I can't say that I know every possible law but I'm pretty familiar with most of them. We certainly can ask, "So who will be living the in the apt"? And if you only say you and your wife and don't mention any kids - then that can get you into trouble because the LEASE might specify that only you two are the "occupants". But their names? Nah ... none of their business - not during the application anyway.

My application does include a credit check, your name (primary), wife's name (if co-applicant), SS#s, and DL #s. The credit check would reveal pretty much anything of interest financially that we would want, and then there might be subsequent questions. I would personally never ask for your bank account #, balance, credit card balances etc. I'm not sure if it's legal to do so but I sure don't - I'd personally rather not know that info. The credit report is very comprehensive and tells us if you have a good payment and credit history. It would also be common for a landlord to ask a small fee to cover the cost of the credit check - about $15 or so, more if they conduct other checks (criminal and such). I also ask about pets and that's legal and a common enough question.

What you might consider doing is putting an ad on Craigslist (it's free), with what you are interested in, and prospective landlords will come find you. This can take some of the chore out of your hands of finding all of them on your own. And CL is, in my opinion, the best way for me to advertise to find prospective tenants as well. I tried everything and CL just makes it so much easier.

This time of year, a landlord should be glad to have you, provided your credit history is good and that you have all the deposit money. January isn't a time for a landlord to be overly picky ... :-)

Best of luck to you and stay warm!!!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 10, 2010

If all you were doing was looking at a rental to decide if you were interested then the questions were inappropriate. If however you were making an application to rent the dwelling then the landlord was totally within his rights to ask these questions. There is a landlord tenant guide for Pennsylvania that you could get from your realtor.

Fran and Mark Redding
Prudential Fox & Roach, Realtors
1010 stonyhill Road
Yardley, PA 19067
215-321-3307 Direct
215-208-7169 Cell
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 9, 2010
It's not unusual for a landlord to ask for a credit report, a copy of your license and wanting the names of the person(s) that will be living there--the landlord just wants to make sure you will be a good tenant. Keep in mind you only need to supply this information once you have placed an offer/ have an accepted offer--if you're just looking and have no intentions of renting the apartment, you don't have to supply any information at that time. What is your Realtor advising.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 9, 2010
In Michigan a landlord will routinely ask for you drivers license, credit report (which would have your credit card balance) and who will be living in the house, which would include their names. I really don't see anything there that is not a part of a typical rental application in my state.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 9, 2010
Maureen Fran…, Real Estate Pro in Birmingham, MI
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