First-Time Renters Want to Know: Is it Normal For a Landlord to Ask for This?

Landlords and property managers can ask a lot of invasive questions that can surprise even the seasoned renter. Most of the time their questions are pretty standard, but sometimes it can feel a little too personal or intrusive. Here are some questions you might be asked and whether you should feel obligated to answer them.

Is it Normal for a Landlord to ask for Your SSN?

In the process of applying to rent an apartment or some other property, you’ll likely get asked for your social security number. This is the ultimate personal question and you’ve likely been told to be picky about who you give this number to. However, it’s totally normal for them to ask for this as your SSN allows the landlord to access your credit score.

Can Landlords Ask to Run a Background Check?

You might be a little surprised if the leasing agreement requires passing a background check. It isn’t a standard request, but an ultra-cautious property manager might request it. While they can ask, they can’t run the background check without your written consent.

Is it Normal for a Landlord to ask for Bank Account Info?

This is an invasive question that often ruffles more than a few feathers. If you’ve supplied proof of income, then they shouldn’t need this info. Push back if you don’t feel like disclosing the amount of money you have in your accounts. If they say they need proof that you can pay rent even if you lose your job, then have someone from your bank write a letter confirming the minimum they are looking for. Then they know you can cover the payments, without disclosing too much.

Can a Property Manager ask for a Non-Refundable Deposit?

Most deposits are refundable by law. There are some exceptions, such as prepaid rent, utilities, pet fees, and property fees. These types of payments should be outlined in the leasing agreement and listed as separate from the deposit. Look at reviews online and see if previous tenants have received their deposits back. Some properties will nickel and dime every scuff in the apartment, while others will be understanding.

Can a Property Manager ask for Proof of Income?

Most property managers and landlords will ask for proof of income — and they have every right to. They’ll typically ask for paystubs from the last two pay periods. This is to verify that the income you listed on the application is truthful.

Can a Landlord ask for the First and Last Month’s Rent?

Putting down first and last month’s rent can put a dent in your bank account, but it’s very common. Landlords and property managers often use this as a tool to ensure that you aren’t living month to month. Doing so also incentivizes you to stay for the entirety of your lease.

Can a Property Manager ask if you Drink or Smoke?

Landlords and property managers can’t ask if you drink and they cannot prohibit the consumption of alcohol on the property. There might be a no-party clause in the leasing agreement, which would restrict the number of guests allowed on the property at any given time.

Smoking is a little different. Landlords can’t technically ask you if you smoke, but they can absolutely ban smoking on their property.

Can a Landlord ask for Proof that Your Pet is a Service Animal?

This is a tricky one! Your loyal service animal is also protected under the ADA. If they ask for this upfront, you don’t have to provide it. However, if your pet poses a threat to the health and safety of others then it’s fair game.

Can a Landlord ask What Breed of Dog you Have?

This might surprise you, but landlords and property managers can absolutely ask for your dog’s breed. It feels a little discriminatory, but there are certain breeds that are illegal in some states and others that might make other tenants feel unsafe.

You should ask some questions too! Check out our 10 Key Questions to Ask a Prospective Landlord.

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