PSA: Your landlord can’t ask to see your bank statements

Other prohibited things: your relationship status, employment details and whether or not you buy avocado on toast on the reg.

Do you have pets? Will you mow the lawns? How many keys do you need? And can you pay a two week deposit and two weeks rent in advance? Here are some of the things owners are allowed to ask you when you apply to rent an apartment.

The List of Proprietary Things are not allowed to ask you is much longer. In no particular order, this includes your race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, relationship status, disabilities, age, political views, and employment status.

Renters should definitely not provide copies of their bank statements to earn the right to rent an affordable home in Aotearoa.

It’s not just me saying this – it’s the Privacy Act, which states that a landlord or property manager cannot ask a potential tenant for information protected by the Privacy Act. of the person. “You should ask yourself if you really need the information before you ask”, that’s how the privacy commissioner officially advises owners to approach things.

The reason is obvious, but worth remembering: this information could be used to discriminate during the process of renting an apartment. According to the privacy commissioner, potential tenants should not be disadvantaged for “refusing to provide information that the landlord should not be asking for in the first place”.

But that doesn’t stop some owners from asking for all of these things – and more. In a new survey published this week (one that fits nicely into The Spinoff’s Rent Week coverage), industry watchdog Consumer NZ has found that some landlords and property managers are asking tenants to provide much more personal information than they were allowed to.

During a mystery shopper exercise conducted while impersonating a potential tenant, Consumer NZ uncovered some alarming statistics, including 6% of rental agencies surveyed asking for bank statements. Another 10% encouraged potential tenants to provide additional information with a cover letter and rental resume, including age range, gender, relationship and employment status.

One said “the more information you provide [about yourself] the better your chances,” while another said any additional information could “make your application stand out from the crowd.” Asked about the safety and security of this information, 14% of respondents became “visibly disinterested”.

During the investigation, Consumer NZ met a 25-year-old Christchurch resident who said her landlord had asked her for “really weird” details, including how long she had had her phone number. The owner then asked for his boss’ phone number, as well as his bank statement and salary information.

Consumer NZ chief executive Jon Duffy said the results are a sign that the rental market remains buoyant and there is plenty of competition between tenants, particularly in larger centres. In July, the average rental price in Auckland was $590 a week, up $10 from the same period in 2021, reports In Wellington, rental prices increased by 9.4% and Christchurch by 9.5%.

“The rental market remains tough in many parts of the country, and many potential tenants are offering more information than necessary just to have a chance of being considered for a property,” says Duffy. Renters are under pressure to share personal information in order to win over potential landlords or agents. “The way we see it, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t.”

Duffy encourages tenants to know their rights and check the Privacy Act Guidelines for Tenants to learn more. “It is concerning that some tenants are expected and encouraged to disclose sensitive private information, but it also raises questions about what happens to that information,” he says. “Property managers could discriminate against certain applicants, based on the information they provide.”

While such requests may violate the Privacy Act, Duffy says it’s up to tenants to know their rights regarding what information landlords are allowed to request. “Ultimately, it’s up to the requester how much information they share,” he says.

The 2022 rental week runs from September 27 to October 2. Read the best of our rental coverage here.