Can a Landlord Check Bank Balances on a Rental Application?
Landlords want to rent to stable, reliable tenants – not someone who keeps his cash under the mattress.
Often, tenants are asked to prove their creditworthiness during their rental application. Landlords need to check a renter’s employment and eviction history as well as some personal background. After obtaining this information, the Landlord now can make a decision whether or not you are a suitable tenant to lease his property to. One of the information the landlord will ask is your bank balance. However, you can always refuse to divulge such personal information.
At this phase in your application, the Landlord can legally ask for any information that can confirm your capability to pay the rent. He can establish your financial strength by comparing your monthly income against your monthly payments. A landlord can also obtain credit report and copies of your bank statements with your consent.
Why the Landlord wants Bank Details
Landlords only want to rent to reliable, stable tenants. By asking for your bank details, the landlord is able to confirm that you actually hold an account and that your monthly income, less your expenditures, is enough to cover the rent. Another reason for Landlords to want to know your account number is for security in the eventuality that you may fail to pay the rent. If the landlord has to sue you for lease violation, he can seek a court order to allow him to take money directly from your account to pay a judgment debt.
You Can Say No
Just as the landlord has the right to ask for your bank balance, you likewise have the right to say no. It’s a difficult decision for a tenant. You may find it uncomfortable to supply confidential information; however you know that by refusing to give your bank details, you are also putting your rental application at risk of being disapproved. There are various reasons that landlords can refuse to rent to you as long as they do not violate discrimination laws.
Alternative Sources of Information
Fortunately, showing your bank statements is not the only way to prove your income. Your certificate of employment validating your job and remuneration, plus your actual pay stubs are also alternative sources of information. You can also provide a copy of your bank statement showing your account balance but with your account number blacked out. However your landlord may still see your account number in another way, like printed on the check for your screening fee or holding deposit.
Bank’s Duty of Confidentiality
But don’t fret. Even if your landlord gets hold of your bank account number, he really can’t do much with it without your consent. In most cases, a bank can’t disclose to a third party, any non-public information such as your bank balance unless a court orders it to do so.