TIPSUnderstanding PIPA Compliance for Landlords
What is PIPA and why does it matter?
The Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA) in British Columbia is a provincial privacy law that regulates how private sector organizations collect, use, and disclose personal information.
The law aims to balance an individual’s right to protect their personal information with an organization’s need to collect and use that data for reasonable purposes. Landlords, businesses, and other private entities in BC must adhere to PIPA guidelines to ensure lawful handling of personal information, with penalties for non-compliance ranging from up to $10,000 for individuals and $100,000 for organizations.
This blog post is based on the PIPA guidelines for landlords linked here: https://www.bclaws.gov.bc.ca/civix/document/id/complete/statreg/03063_01#section8
How to Comply with PIPA: The Basics
- Obtaining Consent: Landlords should only collect information from a tenant with their explicit or implicit consent and only for reasonable and specific purposes related to the rental agreement. According to PIPA Section 8, implicit consent may occur when:
- An individual voluntarily offers information for an obvious purpose, such as providing their name and contact information when inquiring about a property.
- A landlord provides a clear notice explaining the reasonable use of personal data, and the tenant doesn’t decline within a reasonable timeframe.
- Restrictions on Consent:
- Landlords cannot demand consent for extraneous information as a condition for tenancy.
- Deceptive practices to gain consent are prohibited.
- Tenants have the right to withdraw consent.
- Landlords must inform tenants of the likely repercussions of withdrawing consent.
- Documentation of Consent: While consent doesn’t have to be in writing, documentation of consent is highly recommended.
Types of Information Landlords Should and Shouldn’t Collect
Acceptable With Consent Prior to a Tenancy
- Age, to ensure the tenant is not a minor
- Income and employment details
- Social insurance number, if reasonable and necessary
- Criminal record check, in specific circumstances (e.g., the property shares a building with a daycare)
- Credit checks
- Information on previous tenancies
- Social media data
- Banking information, if necessary for tenancy
Acceptable With Consent During a Tenancy
- Banking information
- Car license plate
- Tenant’s insurance information
Information related to race, family status, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, and religion is generally restricted under human rights codes, although exceptions may exist.
Usage of personal information
Once a tenancy is established, Landlords should be careful when disclosing tenant’s personal information without consent. However, there are situations that landlords may use and disclose tenant information without consent such as the following:
- Debt collection
- Urgent scenarios where consent can’t be timely obtained
- Legal requirements, often necessitating a written request
By understanding and applying these PIPA guidelines, landlords can both protect their tenants’ privacy and safeguard themselves against legal issues.