Do Landlords Need to Collect Social Security Numbers?

Written on July 18, 2014 by , updated on November 5, 2015

social-security-numbersv3At the risk of offending professional property managers everywhere, I’m just going to say it:

Landlords do not need to collect social security numbers to screen rental applicants.

Traditionally, SSNs have been required

I’ve been a landlord for almost 10 years, and yes, I’ve collected Social Security numbers (SSNs) from most of my applicants. Traditionally, they have been required to run credit and background checks, but not so anymore.

In years past, hiring a third-party screening company was the only secure way to get an applicant’s credit report.

However, in the last five years, all three major credit bureaus have begun offering or have partnered with companies like Cozy to offer landlords the ability to order credit reports on their own, without having to request an SSN.

When Experian asked Cozy to lead the development of this new technology, it addressed the following question:

Why should renters have to put sensitive information like SSN and bank information on a piece of paper and hand it over to a complete stranger?

The Dangers of Collecting a SSN

With identity theft becoming the #1 crime in America, renters are increasingly hesitant to give out this information, especially to landlords whom they have just met.

When Cozy CEO Gino Zahnd was moving to San Francisco, a potential landlord accidentally ran his credit score six times in three hours, simply because the landlord didn’t know what he was doing. Gino’s credit score dropped dramatically, and it took a while for his score to recover.

Gino bounced back and found another place to live, but the potential landlord could have been held liable for the damage caused to Gino’s credit.

Pros and Cons

Let’s examine the pros and cons of collecting SSNs on a traditional paper application.

Benefits of Collecting a SSN:

  • Screening Companies
    If you don’t want to lift a finger, you can hire a third-party background screening company to do the work for you. Though they don’t need a SSN for criminal background checks, they will need it if you want them to pull a credit report.
  • Sense of Security
    You feel like you have the tenant by the throat, but is that really a good thing?
  • Collections
    Landlords have the lowest success rate of collecting a debt compared with every other industry. However, if you want to hire a third-party collections agency to attempt to collect on the unpaid rent, you’ll need the tenant’s SSN.

Drawbacks of Collecting a SSN:

  • Burden of Secure Record Keeping
    You have to safeguard the personal information, which costs time and money.
  • Confusing Laws
    You must follow many state laws regarding the storage of personally identifiable information (PII), many of which are confusing and easily broken.
  • Increased Liability
    You could (and should) be held liable if their identity is stolen because you failed to protect it.
  • Immediately a Suspect
    If their identity is stolen, you could find yourself at the top of a police suspect list, which is just unnecessary drama.
  • Creates Distrust
    It creates distrust between you and the applicant, as you are forcing them to either jeopardize their identity security or risk not getting your rental unit. You’ll want to reduce entry barriers, not increase them.
  • Your Family Can’t be Trusted
    Most identities are stolen by a family member or trusted friend. Don’t give Uncle Roman a chance to steal your tenant’s identity.
  • Application Fees
    You have to collect, process, and document application fees to pay for the third-party screening. Why not just make the tenant pay for the credit report directly, and skip the application fee completely?

Why You Don’t Need to Collect SSNs

Credit Reports:

Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax offer tenant screening services for landlords without the need for the landlord to collect a SSN. In fact, all you really need is an email address and the tenant’s participation. Third-party screening companies are just an unnecessary middleman.

We’ve taken this a step further by integrating the Experian credit report within Cozy, thereby allowing the landlord to accept online applications, screen tenants, order credit reports, and collect rent from a single tool.

Background Checks:

Years ago, civil courts started removing SSNs from criminal reports and court records. Because these records were publicly available, other criminals were stealing the SSNs off of the records and using them for identity theft.

All you really need to run a background check is the applicant’s first and last name and date of birth. Obviously, having previous addresses or a photo is helpful as well when your applicant’s name is John Smith.

Evictions and Small Claims:

You don’t need a SSN to file an eviction or small claims court case. The process will vary from county to county, but typically the only information needed to open a case is a name and current address. Check with your local civil courthouse to learn about your local eviction process.

For example, both California (Form SUM-130) and Colorado (Form 1A R7-12) eviction forms only ask for name, address, and phone number.

Wage Garnishment:

During your court hearing, you can also ask for the court to approve a wage garnishment. If approved, the judge will issue a court order with requires an employer to comply. An employer would probably prefer you to have a SSN to verify the identity, but they can’t require it since the court didn’t require it.

Even if the tenant doesn’t show up for court, you would still be able to garnish wages without having the tenant’s social security number.


If you win a judgment and want to involve creditors and collection agencies, then yes, you will need your tenant’s SSN. However, when you win the case, you can request that the judge force disclosure of the SSN at that time.

The only time this wouldn’t be realistic is if the tenant doesn’t show up for court. You would be awarded the eviction and possible financial judgement but wouldn’t be able to hire a collections agency to report the debt on their credit report.


I often hear other landlords say, “I need to be able to ruin a tenant’s credit if they don’t pay rent.

The truth is that you can’t actually report a debt directly to the three big credit bureaus. If you win the judgment, most credit reporting companies will pick up on the judgment automatically. No action is needed on your part.

Further, should you really be retaliating? It could get you into legal trouble if you vengefully take it too far.

It’s Not Worth the Risk

During the screening process, I was increasing not only my responsibility to protect this sensitive information but also my liability if I mishandled it.

It made me nervous, and cost me extra time and money to safeguard the information through locked file cabinets and extra security.

If a SSN is not needed for tenant screening, then why was I collecting it?

It was a question that flew in the face of traditional screening practices. It was tough to admit, but no less true. Social security numbers were no longer needed to screen tenants.

If you still feel that you must collect a SSN, do it on the lease, not the rental application. That way, you’ll have only the SSNs of your tenants, and not the other rejected applicants.

If you are incredibly worried about needing a collections agency in the future, then perhaps you should improve your screening process, and pick better tenants.

What About You?

Do you agree or disagree with my arguments? If you still collect SSNs from your applicants, I’d love to hear why you feel the benefits outweigh the risks.

Let me know in the comments below.

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68 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Gavin B

    SSN should be required when running credit. If the tenant doesn’t want credit, have them pay their full years rent up front and MAXIMUM allowed by law security deposit.

    • Jim M

      Definitely agree!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Gavin

      You’re right. SSNs ARE required to pull any credit data – because that’s how the credit bureaus track it. But the difference here is that if a Landlord pulls the credit without help from the tenant, it’s a hard inquiry, the SSN is required to be given to the landlord, and it hurts the tenants credit.

      With Cozy, and many other screening tools (including those provided by the 3 credit bureaus), the tenant has a role in ordering the credit report for the landlord, and then it’s shared. The tenant’s identity is verified via security questions, the landlord never needs the SSN to get the report, and it’s considered a “soft inquiry” thereby not hurting their credit.

      Asking for prepaid rent is an awesome way to qualify someone, but keep in mind, many states limit the amount of prepaid rent to 1-2 months.

      Thanks for the feedback guys!

      • Gavin B

        Lucas, thanks for the response! I ‘require’ SSN for security purposes. If I have to sue, garnish or send to collections. I make sure I am always protected as much as legally possible. No room for negotiating with that with me.

        The way I handle things is, If I have someone who lacks the credit or is international with no consigner 3 – 6 months rent up front to count towards the final months of tenancy works great!!

        FYI – In Missouri you can collect as much rent as you want and a maximum of 2x rent for a security deposit.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Gavin,

          No doubt my friend. I hear what you’re saying. I too always collect the SSN’s of approved applicants that I’m signing a lease with, but all I’m saying is that I stay away from collecting (and having to store/protect) the SSN’s of all applicants. I simply collect them after they are approved, but before the signing – just in case I need to send it to collections.

          • Austin Youmans

            Hey Lucas,

            I like not collecting SSN’s on all applicants and just collecting them on the lease but how do you check to see if the SSN is not a fake at that point?

            • Victor

              I was wondering the same thing. How do you make sure that the SSN is not fake at this point?

              • Austin Youmans

                I finally got an answer elsewhere and you can not verity the SSN at this point. I guess you just trust that they gave you a real SSN as they pass the background check and credit already they would not have a reason to lie about it at this point. i am not sure how I feel about that but that is the answer I got.

      • Maribel


        I completely understand and agree with providing SSI number. However, this landlord I am trying to apply to requires the physical SSI card or the application will be rejected. I am a citizen and have other forms of ID but I lost my card and they told me they will deny my application if I dont have the physical card. It’s not fair at all. I can provide both certificate and other forms of ID but they refuse.

    • Brett

      Too extreme. There are good tenants as well as bad ones. There are good ones with bad credit and bad ones with good credit. The desire to TAKE from someone isnt reason enough to violate a human rights. A renter already feels uncomfortable and disadvantaged living in someone else’s property subject to military inspections under martial law. Degrading for families and onlooking children. Why arent landlords required to have insurance on their properties? My landlord has 5 rental properties. One is a beach condo and none are insured. Their rental house had a hot water pipe leak in the slab so my first months water and electricity for a single person was more than the rent. Im a disabled veteran on fixed payments and they paid only half owed.

      • craig

        Hey Bret, you seem mad and angry at property owners. you may have rented from a not so good owner, but what would the situation be if no owner rented their property?

        • Al Mac

          We cannot generalize on either side, of course there are good landlords (including myself :=) and good tenants (I rarely see them), and vice versa.
          But even though landlords make a profit from renting, that’s a business, and tenants have the liberty to do business with any other landlord they like.
          What would happen if all landlords would give up and just didn’t want to rent their properties anymore? would that be good enough for all the tenants?
          I know many tenants went through a tough life and were never able to buy a house of their own, but are landlords to blame for that? why people who worked their behind off with 3 jobs at a time most of their life (including me) just to purchase a rental property are seen as the bad guys??

        • Renter

          In San Diego, CA (w/over 8K homeless) we have high-rise condo buildings all over sitting completely empty & dark at night. It’s an eerie sight. Owners leave their places vacant most of the year. The city will be taxing each dwelling $10K annually in 2020 unless someone is living in the unit for half the year. Investors have bought up whole apartment complexes, evicted tenants, refurbished units & turned them into AirBnB Rentals (adding to the homeless pop.) Investors/Landlords ARE a problem. If they didn’t buy everything up more properties would be available prices would be lower & the rest of us could buy homes. Instead of paying 50+% of income in rent living w/white walls where we can’t even tape a picture up & who has spare key to APT?

          • you have a myiopic view of the world.

            Do you come here today to express your view or are you active in your community to remedy what you perceive as a problem? Are you one of the types that just wants people to recognize you spotted a “problem” so they think you are intelligent?

            My opinion about your post is you are uneducated and not willing or able to get involved in your community. First, get educated, then, get involved. I suspect once you get educated you will see this isse is not black and white.

            By the way, ypu are way off topic.

            Good luck.

  • Allan

    i understand both sides of the argument but its hard keeping good tenants and also hard to find a good landlord on the other hand.people looking to rent then should have the landlords ssn,w2,pay stubs criminal records check and the last time they used the bathroom and credit check on them to put them in the spot light to be sure the landlord is able to do their part.t

    • Lucas Hall

      … Or the landlord could provide an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    • Gavin B

      tenant can require anything they want, but if they ask me for any of that they won’t be renting my property or any other property in this country.

      Remember, landlord is extending credit and providing a highly valuable assets for them to live in and basically own for the time they have a lease. A tenant could potentially do hundreds of thousands worth of damage to it. Under your theory, when you rent a car see if they will give you all of that information from the owner of the car rental company.

      Sounds like you may be a millennial..if so, welcome to the real world ;)

      • allan

        the reason i posted this was because i own 3 rental properties that i have had applicants fill out the twist is i rented a property to a family that looked really good on paper both with decent income and ended up having to evict for damages and not paying friend bought a house to rent and gave to the 1st family that applied they drove up in and old 1980″s cargo van didnt look as if they could even afford gas for it but have been renting this property for 3 years and not late one time no problems at all with this family and to most would not have gave them a chance due to what they drove and looked like let alone needing social numbers and their whole life history.i screen very little and have way better tenants than before.

      • DK

        Apt response!!! Why are the landlords expected to give out their 100’s of thousands of dollar worth of asset even without a SSN whereas all other businesses require basic information even before lending you a $100 worth of credit card.. When you fill up credit application at the car dealer or macy’s what guarantee you have that the paper application is not going to fall in a wrong person’s hand where your SSN is clearly written!!!

        • JH

          I have no problem providing my credit card information to retailers because I trust them to keep my information secure. Identity theft is a serious crime with real damages. Collecting SSN’s at lease signing levels the playing field. Giving you (or any other random stranger) my SSN puts me in an extremely vulnerable position. Call me a grammar snob, but if “filling up” an application for your “100’s of thousands of dollar worth of asset” means providing my SSN, I think I’ll pass.

          • Lucas Hall

            Hi JH,

            I think you missed the point of the article. With modern technology, like Cozy (which is who I use to do tenant screening), a landlord doesn’t get to see the SSN. That’s kept private between you and Cozy/Experian. Only the credit report is provided to the landlord in order to verify that you can afford the unit.

            • Me

              Your credit has zero to do with being able to affored anything!! Companies and lenders alike need to understand this. My husband and I can not get approved for a home lone due to his credit yet we have never missed a rental payment or car payment. We pay double in rent than we would to own. Credit score has absolutely zero to do with your ability to pay for something.

        • Daniel

          Its not really an asset if you have a lean against it. I don’t trust people who simply buy up property so they can live off others struggling to save up a down payment. Rent where I am is becoming oppressive 46% of renters in this city are paying more than 33% of their income.

          Homes are for people to live in not for lazy rich people to not ever have to work.
          The Who mess you people have created is helping impoverish a generation.
          I say if you can you should fuck your landlord like they do you each month you should.
          Landlords are mostly scumbags especially those who own multiple properties.

          • Gavin

            It’s an asset if you have more equity than liability. A lien is what someone puts on your asset if you owe them and haven’t paid.

            Doesn’t sound like you’re ready to move out of mommy’s basement…

            • Al Mac

              Gavin, you are right!
              This comments seems a lot like from a millennial who hasn’t done anything productive with his/her life and can’t afford to move out of mommy’s.
              I guess I didn’t know that I was a rich lazy person because I own a couple of rentals. Probably the countless weekends and week nights I have spent working on my rentals (after working my day job of course) fixing the damage my tenants caused to my properties was helping impoverish a whole generation!! WOW!!!! I didn’t know that !!!!

    • cindy

      agreed! well said! it is a 2 way contract

  • Calvin B.

    My landlord failed to fix an AC problem for 2 weeks. I have a job offer to another city. I ask for a reasonable payout and she says I’m obligated to pay out the remaining 9 months. She never ask for socials security #’s and the contract has a clause stating that if I receive a job offer then I can leave after 6 months has been served and give a 30 day notice. Can I pay that 6 months balance which would only be a ramining 3 months left and leave?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Calvin

      I wish I could help you here, but it sounds like you really need legal advice – which I can’t give.

      I can tell you that if you abandon the lease, it will look bad if you go to court and you might have to come back to defend yourself. You could check out your state laws to see if your state requires a landlord to mitigate damages to you:

      Good luck to you.

  • Gavin B

    As long as it states in your lease that you can end your lease early due to a new job (as certain amount of miles away), here’s what you can do:

    Refer your landlord to that 6 month new job clause, show them an official letter confirming and tell them you will pay up to the 6 months, and you are giving your 30 day notice now. As long as the clause is as clear as you say, you should be legally OK!

    Worst case, you can continue to pay, clear out your apartment, move and give them a 30 day written notice at 5 months, along with your letter. Then you should be good.

    It can’t hurt to contact a local real estate atty regarding the matter.

  • Chrissie

    I just had an apartment that my husband & I have applied for in WA state ask for my 4 year old daughters social…

  • Edwin

    Lucas, I have a 3 BR unit i’m currently marketing. Yesterday i interviewed a couple who are interested in applying. Both combined make enough to meet my income criteria.
    My question is, should i have to have them fill out two separate applications and have them run two separate background checks? This would mean their fee would be doubled.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Edwin,

      Yes, it’s a best practice to have EVERY ADULT fill out their own application. The main reason is that every person has their own credit report and background profile.

      I suggest you don’t charge an application fee, but rather just have them pay for their own credit and background check through Cozy – so they get a copy as well. It would be free for you to request those reports, and you wouldn’t have to handle the money/application fee.

      More info:

      You would need to setup an account first with Cozy, but that only takes 2 minutes.

      I hope that helps!

  • cindy

    Running someone’s credit multiple times in one day will NOT cause the score to change. The author of this article should go to and read about scores and how scores are actually calculated and what causes them to change. I cringe every time I see a company use propaganda to support their product. Further more, if it is a “soft inquiry” it is a consumer report and the score associated is not relevant to tenant screening. These scores can vary significantly from a FICO score which is the most common score used for obtaining traditional credit.

    • Patricia

      Cindy is correct – actually, running a credit check for the purpose of tenancy is a soft inquiry and it won’t lower score at all, and running it multiple times within several weeks by the same company will not lower it. I think the author should not publish propaganda and give erroneous information. As for SS#, I found that if I tell the prospect and say that they need to provide deposit and ask for the Social right from the start, all the ones with poor credit automatically don’t even fill out the application – so it weeds out pretty much 99% of bad applicants in a very non-confrontational way. And yes, I do have to collect SS b/c otherwise I cannot establish a landlord-tenant account to hold deposit (absolutely required in MA).

      • Gavin B

        It is never a “soft” inquiry when you run a credit check for business proposes. If you run a credit check as a landlord it will negatively affect the prospects credit rating.

      • Confused tenant

        My landlord works at a bank and she has our ss#, she is falsely accusing us of a lot of damages in the house that was there before we moved in. She is now saying if we we do not pay her she was going to put it against our credit. Can she legally do that?

        • Gavin B

          Simple answer, YES, unless you reported the damages before you took possession of the property.

          You should have memorialized all of the damages before you moved in. Taking pictures and making a list and then “emailing” to your landlord would have safeguarded you upon move out.

  • Fenn

    Look, it’s a trust game. You can treat your tenants like criminals all day long and never have their trust or respect. Or you can treat them with the common decency you know you deserve. We can tell which is which and choose our landlord accordingly. Obviously, there’s enough housing for all types on either side, so it comes down to character. How important is it to be a money hungry tyrant?

    • Lucas Hall

      Who’s a money hungry tyrant? Aren’t we talking about social security numbers here?

      • Fenn

        Yes, well follow the comments and all the talk about protecting precious assets that are clearly more important than providing housing for human beings. Come on, you’re smart enough to see how the threads of conversation went.

        • Gavin B

          LOL! This person would apply for housing in one of my units and would be rejected before I even got started for someone better qualifed. Attitudes such as this are a perfect example of why we need SSN’s and good credit!!

          • Matt Z

            I would never rent from anyone requiring a social security number. It took me a long time to earn an 815 credit score and I am not going to risk it by giving my ssn to a complete stranger. It only makes sense to give to a reputable company like Bank of America for things such as a car loan since they are actually loaning you money. Landlords are not extending credit in any way shape or form. the rent is paid cash from one month to the next. People like you think that the tenants are the ones making out in the deal but it’s completely not true. landlords are the ones getting the money!!! Since you are making profit, you are making out. But you wont get any of my $$$$$, that’s for sure!!!! Plenty of landlords will rent w/out ssn

        • Andrew

          I always think of the market crashes and all the illegal/under-the-table/undocumented/ill-paid construction workers with little to no protection under the law who actually built the edifices, rather than the people that feel they have built themselves items of high value that should be of first consideration when needing to house (perhaps) some of those who built them and were thrown out of work/have no protections under the law as to security of employment/ do not get esteemed as worth a stable livelihood though what they built provides that to others….

      • Nicole

        Yeah, but why do some people want to run an application before you even see the house. That’s the insulting thing. I get that you should check people out before renting, but if I verbally tell you everything about my life, maybe you can slow your roll a little on the application fee.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Nicole,

          I agree with you. There’s no need for an application fee. The only real expense is for credit checks and background checks, and that can be a soft inquiry which the tenant pays for directly.

          The best practice is for renters to see a place before applying, but in really competitive cities, sometimes a landlord will have 10 applications before ever showing a unit. It’s just the way it works if you want to be first in line. Thankfully, most of the country isn’t like that.

  • Samantha K

    I totally agree with this I also know they may try to say well I need it to open a tenant/landlord bank account but I work at a bank and an account can be opened with the landlords social and also i have dealt with people going through identify theft and it is SO heartbreaking!

  • Fahad

    Well, i came to the USA since 2012 and i never had any problem for payment at all because i have a good income. However, i dont have social security because im an international student who has a scholarship plus full personal income. So why i cant rent an apt without a ssn while i have a good credit and income too.
    Unless there is a rule that rental apartment not allowed for students???
    We need a solution as a student. Im really dissapointed.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Fahad,

      Thanks for sharing, and you’ll be glad to know that a SSN is not a requirement for housing according to any federal or state laws. However, running a credit and background check on an applicant is a best practice. But just because it’s the norm, doesn’t mean they have to do it. There are landlords and managers out there that don’t need a credit check, but they are just harder to find.

    • Gavin B

      I have many international students, most from China. They give me two full months of security deposit (max allows by Mo law) along with first and last months rent.

      Almost all landlords will accept this in lieu of established credit and a SSN.

      • David

        Hi Gavin,

        How is the tenant legally assured that his last month is paid for? Do you have a clause in the lease contract which stipulates that he has already paid the 1st and last months of rent?


      • David

        Hi Lucas,

        I am a prospective tenant who found this thread out of frustration with the irresponsible nonchalance with which landlords ask for SSNs, without any consideration whatsoever that they are perpetuating a practice that puts so many people at risk.

        I have nothing to hide but I simply want to safeguard my SSN. I have recently moved to the US so there isn’t even much history on me. I only use debit and I have never taken a loan. However, I have a family member who has very good credit and is willing to co-sign the lease as a guarantor. I’ve asked for workarounds but landlors seem to ‘check out’ because so many others comply… What would you advise? How shoould I approach them?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi David,

          The sad truth is that many (if not most) landlords are stuck in the “old ways” of doing things – which gives very little regard to tenants. They have a printed application, which requires all your sensitive info, and they aren’t willing to negotiate. Further, for someone who has built a business around this process, it’s difficult for them to change. So, trying to “work with them” will produce very little fruit since they might have other applicants who are willing to play their game.

          My suggestion would be continue doing what you are doing, and you’ll eventually come across a modern landlord. But in the mean time, are you willing to lose out on the other places by not using their old-fashioned application?

  • Anthony Demag

    i have question i live in a mobile home park i am the owner and the space is rented in my name. when i did the app it was in my name only. 2 1/2 years later the new pm is asking for ss#s for everyone that lives in my unit is this legal?since the space is in my name.they are on the rental agreement they are also asking for id for anyone over 18 thats no problem i live in stanislaus county california i have been looking for the answer for about a month no seems to have one i was hope that you could find out for me
    thanks for you time

    • Tom McAllister

      Anthony, I wonder why they want that information. Criminal background checks wouldn’t require SSN, there is no use to financial background checks on residents who have no financial obligation to the owner. If you are worried that theirs is an extralegal concern, I would at least have a conversation with a legal aid organization about landlord/tenant rights. It might be aimed more at your neighbors than at you. California law is careful to protect people against discrimination and that includes discrimination on the basis of documented status. SSN could be used to ascertain just such a thing and it might be important to employers but not to landlords

  • Mel

    I needed it to collect on a state income tax garnishment. Good thing I had it. I would have had to supena another petition for Discovery, and that’s time consuming and costs money.

  • Kim

    We NEED socials and/or date of birth in case of an eviction. No, the eviction suit does not require either BUT it’s now the law that you have to verify Military Status which DOES require either the SSN or DOB. With Cozy, neither are stored so if you rely solely on Cozy for the application processes and need to evict you’re SCREWED!

    I will never again have an prospective tenant do an application online! I will get that in paper form and then have them go through Cozy for the credit and background checks.

  • Jan Potter

    My husband and I just applied to lease a lot in a manufactured home park. We were asked not only for our social security numbers but that of our minor child. I felt that this was going too far and I offered to give only a copy of her birth certificate to prove that she was a legal resident of the US. We were eventually approved, but I am curious if it is actually legal for them to require it for a minor on the official application.

  • Wild Bill Donovan

    Why not SSNs? Why not DOBs on the same sheet? Seriously, you think this this not a problem because you think you are a ‘good guy’? Then I will tell you why it is always a bad idea to collect unnecessary personal info-because landlords are AMATEURS when it comes to data security…law enforcement and DoD sources can attest to compromises to their personnel through careless civilian record-keeping and data security. Mr. Landlord, have you passed a SSBI lately, let alone qualified for a high-level clearance? Don’t even know what that means? Then you have absolutely NO business asking for ID-theft potential data on rental apps. Any petty criminal scumbag can break your window and steal all those IDs in 60 seconds or less. Guess who’s liable-YOU

  • Alex

    Would I need tenant’s SSN while filing tax return? There is a spot to place this info but not sure need to?

  • Sandra

    As a tenant, I understand the need for landlords to collect information, perhaps the best of which is accessible using the tenant’s SSN. However the way in which the SSN is collected seems so important! I have been asked to share my SSN over very informal and unsecured channels, as if this is completely normal. Landlords, how can I navigate the SSN-sharing conversation and get assurance that this piece of info is being stored securely, without seeming like a ‘stickler’, annoying tenant, or accusatory and risking my chance at getting the apartment? It should be so obvious that there needs to be a formal SSN acquisition process, but apparently the practice of asking for and giving this info informally is so common that it’s not.

  • Kris

    I was required to be added to my friends lease after coming to stay with her for three weeks. I don’t have an SSN as I am from Canada so I didn’t put one. She now told me she owed on apartment when moved out. Will this really affect my credit when I am not even a citizen and was just visiting? I wasn’t even there when she left so I don’t understand. Any help would be appreciated.

  • John ABRAMS



  • James

    Post says to skip the middle man. Then says Cozy includes a given credit report. Sounds like Cozy is a middle man.

  • Mary

    So you are saying that, in the event a tenant broke the lease, it is easier to sue them than to report their bad credit???

    And it is easy to sue the tenant because it only requires their “current address,” which you will surely know after they skip town???

  • Matthew Adams

    As a renter in California, I can see both sides of the story. We have a terrible slumlord who happens to be an attorney and sets up her own property management companies but that’s another issue.

    All I can say unless rents are reigned in and we get back to supply and demand as opposed to supplying the 1% while demanding the other 99% subsidize displaced residents through increased property taxes, etc. because of this neo-feudalism, collecting Social Security numbers or not will be the least of landlord’s problems. The country needs to learn from history. Ignorance is not bliss. It’s dangerous.

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