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rental applic - what can be asked

Posted by Annamae on December 24, 2000 at 10:33:07:

First, it is important to say that this is in a city in UPSTATE New York, NOT New York CITY. PLEASE do not give me answers that have to do with NY CITY rental laws.

Can anyone respond to the questions below, and most importantly, provide me a reference, if any, to NY STATE law where the answers can be found.

Wondering if any of this is too invasive for a rental APPLICATION (that is BEFORE tenant/landlord relationship is actually formed). Don't read between the lines, I'm neither a tenant nor a landlord, nor do I represent either.

State Driver's License ID No.
Social Security Number
Marital status
Children, how many, and ages
Employer's address
Supervisor's name and phone number
Your annual income
Same employer info for spouse, if any
Bank name
Bank phone number

I think of the SS#. I do believe that is totally private and even employers cannot obtain that til after hiring and ONLY for payroll purposes. What would/could a landlord do with an SS#? Employer info is interesting because I work in a goverment agency, a Personnel office by coincidence, and we do not give ANY information out over the phone other than saying "Yes, so and so is employed by us." But no info on length of employment, income amount, etc. Naturally a written release signed by the employee to OK the providing of information to a bank for a mortgage would be ok. As far as a bank, well, if someone calls your bank and asks if you have an account there, does your bank readily answer the caller without question?.

I can make sense of the reasons for some of the questions. Bank and employer information are certainly helpful to locate assets in the event of non-payment and far too many people just keep deliberately hopping from apartment to apartment, staying just long enough without rent just to get evicted. But then there seems to me a privacy issue and a landlord can always, if needed, send subpeonas to all banks anyway.

Do you pay your rent by personal check? We once called our bank, spoke to a human, asked a question using account number and social security number and we were able to get answers to all kinds of questions like, "uh, I forgot who I wrote check number 500 to, has it cleared and for how much?" With merely an account number, which is printed on your check, and your social security number, a landlord can access all kinds of information from your checking account, yes?

To summarize, where is the balance between the landlord's need for info and a tenant's right to privacy? The balance between landlord's rights and tenant's rights? Etc?

If you could copy a reply to me it would be much appreciated, yet post it here for others' benefit too. My e-mail is Thank you so much

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