Identity theft is a real concern these days. Sometimes it seems like the amount of information a potential apartment tenant has to reveal is somewhat unsettling. A landlord who is worth leasing from is going to ask several personal questions. He will want your name, address, phone number, salary, social security number, a list of your current and past employers and he will probably let you know that he will check your credit report. The reason he is requesting this information is because he is taking a risk by turning over his property to someone with whom he is unacquainted.
He needs to know your salary to determine whether or not you can afford the monthly rent. He needs your social security number to run a credit report. Our credit reports tell a lot about our character and our spending habits. He may be able to determine pretty quickly that you aren’t a worthy risk if you are habitually late making payments to other landlords or on bills in general. He will probably call your current employer to verify valid employment.
Although it is unlikely that a good landlord will steal your identity, here are a few tips for someone who is interested in leasing an apartment.
1. Landlords are required to abide by the Disposal Rule of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACT Act). This rule requires landlords retain your information in a locked cabinet at all times. When they no longer need your information, they are to destroy it using an effective method such as shredding. All computer files should be erased with a program that will delete the information permanently.
2. Take note of how the landlord keeps his office. Do you see any other applications or sensitive information out in the open? You have every right to ask where he keeps his sensitive information and if there is anyone else (such as a leasing associate) who has access to it.
3. Ask other tenants about the landlord and if they have had any problems dealing with him. This information might prove to be invaluable in helping you make a decision.
It may be tempting to lease an apartment from a landlord who doesn’t require personal information, but be careful. A landlord who is careless with his property may be the same way in other areas. A professional landlord screens his potential tenants carefully in order to safeguard himself and his other tenants. Wouldn’t you want the same if you were already one of his tenants?