Can Landlord Ask for Ssn

Under specific conditions, it’s against the law for a landlord to request a Social Security Number (SSN) in the rental application process. In most states, this personal information can only be legally obtained after the rental agreement has been executed. However, landlords can request an SSN in a few situations, such as in certain states with specific laws permitting its use for credit checks or verifying rental history. In addition, landlords can legally request an SSN for background checks in states that authorize them and where landlords are allowed to collect SSN for such purposes.

Landlord’s Authority to Request SSN

In general, landlords can ask for a Social Security Number (SSN) from potential tenants. However, there are specific permissible purposes for collecting SSN and restrictions on its usage.

Permissible Purposes for SSN Collection:

  • Credit and Background Checks: SSN is commonly used to run credit checks and verify a tenant’s background information, such as criminal records or eviction history.
  • Tenant Screening: SSN assists in identifying and verifying the tenant’s identity, ensuring they are who they claim to be.
  • Legal and Reporting Requirements: In some jurisdictions, landlords are legally required to collect SSN for tax reporting or other legal purposes.
  • Government Programs and Subsidies: If the property participates in government-subsidized housing programs, SSN might be necessary for eligibility determination.

Restrictions and Considerations:

While landlords can request SSN, they must adhere to the following restrictions:

  • Consent: Tenants must provide SSN voluntarily. Landlords cannot force or coerce them into disclosing it.
  • Confidentiality: SSN is sensitive personal information, and landlords must maintain strict confidentiality. They cannot share it with third parties without the tenant’s consent.
  • Data Security: Landlords must implement appropriate security measures to protect the collected SSN from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure.
  • Limited Use: SSN can only be used for the specific permissible purposes for which it was collected.

Additionally, some states have specific laws or regulations governing the collection and use of SSN by landlords. Tenants should familiarize themselves with these laws to understand their rights and responsibilities.

SSN vs. Other Forms of Identification:

SSNOther Forms of Identification
More sensitive and confidentialLess sensitive (e.g., driver’s license, passport)
Required for specific purposes (credit check, background screening)Generally not required for rental applications
Subject to strict confidentiality regulationsLess stringent confidentiality requirements

In conclusion, landlords can request SSN from potential tenants for permissible purposes, such as credit and background checks, tenant screening, and legal requirements. However, they must obtain consent, maintain confidentiality, implement data security measures, and comply with applicable laws and regulations. Tenants should be aware of their rights and responsibilities regarding SSN disclosure and seek clarification if they have concerns.

Tenant Consent and Privacy Concerns

While landlords may request a Social Security Number (SSN) from prospective tenants during the application process, they must obtain the tenant’s consent before collecting it. Landlords cannot legally demand a SSN without the tenant’s explicit permission.

Tenant Consent

  • Voluntary Disclosure: Tenants have the right to choose whether or not to disclose their SSN to a landlord.
  • Written Consent: If a landlord requires a SSN for credit or background checks, they must obtain written consent from the tenant.
  • Purpose of SSN Collection: Landlords must clearly state the purpose of SSN collection and cannot use it for any other purpose without the tenant’s consent.

Privacy Concerns

  • Identity Theft: Disclosing a SSN to a landlord poses the risk of identity theft, as it is a sensitive piece of personal information.
  • Data Misuse: Landlords may misuse the SSN for purposes other than those agreed upon with the tenant.
  • Lack of Regulation: There are no federal laws specifically regulating the collection and use of SSNs by landlords.
StateSSN Collection by LandlordsRestrictions
CaliforniaAllowedLandlords must obtain written consent and state the purpose of SSN collection.
IllinoisProhibitedLandlords cannot collect SSNs from tenants.
New YorkAllowedLandlords must provide a written notice to tenants explaining the purpose of SSN collection and obtain their consent.

In conclusion, landlords can ask for a SSN from tenants, but they must obtain the tenant’s consent and clearly state the purpose of collection. Tenants should be aware of the privacy risks associated with disclosing their SSN and consider the necessity of providing it to a landlord.

Legal Limitations

Landlords are generally prohibited from asking for a Social Security number (SSN) on a rental application. This is because the SSN is considered to be private information, and landlords do not have a legitimate need to know it. In some cases, landlords may be allowed to ask for a SSN if it is required by law. For example, landlords may be required to collect SSNs for tax purposes or to comply with anti-terrorism laws. However, landlords must have a specific reason for collecting SSNs, and they must use the information only for the purpose for which it was collected.

There are a number of federal and state laws that prohibit landlords from asking for SSNs. These laws include:

  • The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) prohibits landlords from asking for a SSN on a credit application.
  • The Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) prohibits landlords from discriminating against applicants based on their SSN.
  • The Privacy Act of 1974 prohibits landlords from collecting SSNs without a specific reason.


Asking for a SSN on a rental application can be discriminatory. This is because a SSN can be used to identify an applicant’s race, ethnicity, or national origin. For example, a landlord who asks for a SSN may be able to tell if an applicant is Hispanic by looking at the first three digits of the SSN. This information could then be used to discriminate against the applicant.

In addition, asking for a SSN can also be discriminatory against people who have been victims of identity theft. This is because identity thieves often use SSNs to open fraudulent accounts. If a landlord asks for a SSN, they may be able to access an applicant’s credit report and see if there are any fraudulent accounts listed. This information could then be used to deny the applicant’s application.

Consequences of SSN Discrimination
Discrimination TypePotential Consequences
Race– Denial of housing
– Increased rent
– Unfavorable lease terms
National Origin– Denial of housing
– Increased rent
– Unfavorable lease terms
Identity Theft– Denial of housing
– Increased rent
– Unfavorable lease terms

Alternative Forms of Identification

In some cases, a landlord may be able to ask for an alternative form of identification instead of a Social Security Number (SSN). This could include:

  • A driver’s license
  • A state-issued identification card
  • A passport
  • A military ID
  • A student ID

The specific forms of identification that a landlord can ask for will vary from state to state. Landlords should check with their local laws to see what forms of identification are acceptable.

Tenant Rights

It’s important to note that tenants have certain rights when it comes to providing their SSN to a landlord. For example, in some states, landlords are not allowed to ask for a SSN unless they have a specific need for it, such as running a credit check. Tenants should also be aware that they do not have to provide their SSN if they do not want to.

Avoiding Identity Theft

Tenants should be careful about providing their SSN to a landlord, as it could be used for identity theft. Identity theft occurs when someone uses another person’s personal information, such as their SSN, to open credit accounts or make purchases. Tenants can help protect themselves from identity theft by taking the following steps:

  • Never give your SSN to someone you don’t know or trust
  • Shred any documents that contain your SSN before you throw them away
  • Use strong passwords and change them regularly
  • Be careful about clicking on links in emails or text messages from people you don’t know
StateForms of Identification that Landlords Can Ask For
CaliforniaDriver’s license, state-issued identification card, passport, military ID, student ID
TexasDriver’s license, state-issued identification card, passport, military ID
New YorkDriver’s license, state-issued identification card, passport

Thanks so much for reading! I hope this article has helped you better understand whether or not a landlord can ask for your SSN. If you have any more questions, feel free to reach out to me in the comments below. In the meantime, be sure to visit our website again soon for more informative and engaging content. We’ve got something for everyone, so don’t miss out!