Security Freeze – Your Best Tool Against the Landlord Credit Bureau

Currently the best possible way to secure your personal information from being used by the Landlord Credit Bureau and their customers is by using the Security Freeze provisions of the Consumer Reporting Act. This prevents the Landlord Credit Bureau from updating your file or sharing it with any other party. It effectively cripples the usefulness of your data to them.

From Section 12.4 of the Ontario Consumer Reporting Act

Security freeze

12.4 (1) A prescribed consumer reporting agency shall place a security freeze on the file of a consumer on or before the prescribed deadline if,

(a) the consumer has, in accordance with this section and any prescribed requirements, required the agency to place a security freeze on the file; and

(b) the consumer has complied with subsection (9) and any prescribed requirements. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Effect of security freeze

(2) During the period that a security freeze on a consumer’s file is in effect, the consumer reporting agency shall not disclose any credit or personal information about the consumer maintained by the agency, including any consumer scores, to any person. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Suspending a security freeze

(3) The consumer reporting agency shall suspend a security freeze on or before the prescribed deadline if,

(a) the consumer whose file is subject to the security freeze requires the suspension in accordance with this section and any prescribed requirements; and

(b) the consumer has complied with subsection (9) and any prescribed requirements, including any requirements respecting the duration of a suspension. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Same, duration

(4) If the consumer reporting agency is required to suspend a security freeze under subsection (3), the suspension shall be for the duration specified by the consumer. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Same, effect

(5) A security freeze that is suspended is not in effect. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Terminating a security freeze

(6) The consumer reporting agency shall terminate a security freeze on or before the prescribed deadline if,

(a) the consumer whose file is subject to the security freeze requires the termination in accordance with this section and any prescribed requirements; and

(b) the consumer has complied with subsection (9) and any prescribed requirements. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Expiry

(7) Unless terminated earlier, a security freeze expires at the end of the prescribed period, if any. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Disclosure despite a security freeze

(8) Despite subsection (2), the consumer reporting agency may, in accordance with any prescribed requirements, disclose to prescribed persons and entities such information as may be maintained by the agency about a consumer, if the information is prescribed. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Identification

(9) A consumer who requires a consumer reporting agency to place, suspend or terminate a security freeze shall provide the agency with a copy of any prescribed identification and a copy of any other identification the agency may reasonably require to verify the consumer’s identity. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Fees

(10) A consumer reporting agency shall not charge the consumer a fee for placing, suspending or terminating a security freeze unless the agency is permitted to do so by regulations. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

Information

(11) When a consumer requires that a security freeze be placed on his or her file, the consumer reporting agency shall provide the consumer with the information referred to in section 12.5 and the name and telephone number or email address of a person the consumer can contact for an explanation of the information. 2018, c. 7, s. 6.

What does it all mean?

In a nutshell, this means that if you request that the Landlord Credit Bureau place a security freeze on your account they can no longer disclose any information about you to any party until a time of your choosing or even indefinitely. The only exception is in the case of government investigation or if you select parties you permit LCB to report to.

The Landlord Credit Bureau may not charge you any fees to perform this security freeze.

All you need to do is present proper government issued photo ID when you make your request.

How do I request a security freeze from Landlord Credit Bureau?

Scan a copy of the photo identification you intend to use in order to make your request.


Send the following email with your scanned ID attached to: legal@landlordcreditbureau.com

EDIT: We are hearing that LCB is no longer responding to emails sent to the above address. Readers are reporting they are getting responses from support@landlordcreditbureau.com


To Whom It May Concern,

My name is (INSERT NAME HERE) and my photo ID is attached.

I formally request that the Landlord Credit Bureau apply a Security Freeze on my account in accordance with Section 12.4 of the Consumer Reporting Act. I request that this freeze have no set termination date.

Please advise when this action is completed.

Regards,

(YOUR NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION)

That’s it?

Yep. That’s pretty much it. Once this is done it is unlawful for Landlord Credit Bureau to share your data with anyone, protecting your personal information and circumventing the process the LCB uses to put you on their bad tenant list.

Make sure to keep copies of all of your correspondence for future reference.

Will this work even if I’ve accepted the Landlord Credit Bureau Terms of Service?

Yes. Regardless of whether you agreed to their terms or not or even if you used your LCB profile the Security Freeze can still be instated.

How can I find out what personal information the Landlord Credit Bureau has on file for me? Do I have a right to see it?

You absolutely have a right to see everything they have on file about you. The Consumer Reporting Act is very clear on this issue in Section 12 of the legislation.

From Section 12 (3):

(3) If a consumer makes a request under clause (1) (a), the consumer reporting agency shall, in accordance with this section, section 12.0.1 and any prescribed requirements, disclose to the consumer the following information:

  1. The nature and substance of all information in the consumer reporting agency’s files pertaining to the consumer at the time of the request.
  2. The sources of credit information.
  3. The name and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of every person on whose behalf the file has been accessed within the three-year period preceding the request.
  4. If the agency furnished a consumer report pertaining to the consumer within the one-year period preceding the request,

i. the names and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of the recipients of that report, and

ii. a copy of the consumer report if it was furnished in writing or the particulars of the content of the report if it was furnished orally.

  1. If the agency generated and furnished a consumer score, furnished a consumer score generated by another entity or furnished any other information evaluating the credit or personal information of the consumer within the one-year period preceding the request,

i. the names and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of the recipients of that score or information, and

ii. the score and the particulars of any other information evaluating the credit or personal information of the consumer.

  1. Any other information relating to the consumer score that may be prescribed. 2018, c. 7, s. 5.

The Landlord Credit Bureau is not allowed to place any conditions on this disclosure besides asking for proper identification to ensure they are disclosing to an authorized party. They also cannot charge you anything for this service.

How do I make the request?

You will need government issued photo ID to make this request.

Scan a copy of the photo identification you intend to use in order to make your request.


Send the following email with your scanned ID attached to: legal@landlordcreditbureau.com


To Whom it May Concern,

My name is (INSERT NAME HERE) and my photo identification is attached. I am making a formal request under Section 12.3 of the Consumer Reporting Act for disclosure of the following information:

  • The nature and substance of all information in the consumer reporting agency’s files pertaining to my account at the time of the request.
  • The sources of credit information.
  • The name and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of every person on whose behalf the file has been accessed within the three-year period preceding the request.
  • If the agency furnished a consumer report pertaining to my account within the one-year period preceding the request, the names and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of the recipients of that report, and a copy of the consumer report if it was furnished in writing or the particulars of the content of the report if it was furnished orally.
  • If the agency generated and furnished a consumer score, furnished a consumer score generated by another entity or furnished any other information evaluating my credit or personal information within the one-year period preceding the request, the names and contact information, including the address and the telephone number or email address, of the recipients of that score or information, and the score and the particulars of any other information evaluating the credit or personal information of the consumer.
  • Any other information relating to the consumer score that may be prescribed.


Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Regards,

(INSERT NAME AND CONTACT INFORMATION HERE)

What if I don’t want the Landlord Credit Bureau to collect and share my personal information anymore? Can I get them to stop?

Yes you can.

Within the Consumer Reporting Act there is a legal mechanism all credit reporting agencies must comply with called a Security Freeze. This hold allows the consumer to freeze their file with a credit reporting agency for any reason, at any time and for any length. While subject to a Security Freeze your information cannot be disclosed to anyone with the exception of law enforcement in the course of an investigation. This will mean the LCB can no longer share any of your data with their customers.

For more information please see our complete guide to Security Freezes.

Can my Landlord sign me up for Landlord Credit Bureau without my consent?

Short answer: No.

Long answer:

This is a matter which LCB disputes. Landlord Credit Bureau claims landlords have the right to share your personal information with them without your prior consent. Federal privacy laws in Canada seem to disagree and those disagreements are supported by case literature.

From a 2016 finding from the Privacy Commissioner of Canada in another case involving a bad tenant list and landlords sharing tenants personal information without express consent:

Principles 4.2, 4.3 and 4.3.2 of the Act deal with matters of consent — for consent to be meaningful, individuals must be provided with a reasonably understandable explanation of why their personal information is being collected, and how it is going to be used. We could not see how consent “to obtain such credit reports or other information as may be deemed necessary” would lead individuals to understand they were consenting to their personal information being collected, used and disclosed for the purposes of a “bad tenant” list.

The Privacy Commissioner in this case found that the collection of data was not appropriate but also made an important finding for understanding why we have the LCB as it currently exists. The Commissioner found that in attempting to create this “bad tenant list” the landlords association involved in the complaint were acting as a Credit Reporting Agency when not licensed to do so.

It is clear that the Landlord Credit Bureau is well aware of this finding and the reason why they have licensed themselves as a Credit Reporting Agency. By doing so they are attempting to circumvent one of the core findings of this report.

That said, even though the Landlord Credit Bureau is a licensed Credit Reporting Agency, meaningful consent from the tenant is still required before the landlord can share their personal information with the LCB. From the Privacy Commissioners Report:

Knowledge and consent

We also considered whether the Respondent has ensured the knowledge and consent of the individuals on the “bad tenant” list in order to collect, use or disclose their personal information, or whether an applicable exception to this obligation under the Act applies.
In this respect, we were of the preliminary view that the personal information of individuals appearing on the “bad tenant” list is being collected, used or disclosed without their knowledge and consent.
We noted that the Respondent was not directly collecting the personal information from those individuals appearing on the “bad tenant” list. Rather, it was the members of the landlord association who were collecting the personal information from tenants and subsequently disclosing it to the Respondent to populate the list.


Our investigation revealed that the Respondent’s own standard tenant application form and rental agreement form did not explain in a reasonably understandable manner, as required by Principle 4.2, that applicants’ personal information could be collected, used or disclosed for the purposes of inclusion on a “bad tenant” list. With regard to the other association members, the Respondent was not aware, and did not provide, any evidence as to whether the member landlords were: (i) explaining in their respective tenant application forms or rental agreements that a prospective tenant’s personal information could be used or disclosed for purposes of inclusion on the Respondent “bad tenant” list, or (ii) obtaining meaningful consent for such a use or disclosure.


Based on the evidence before us at the time, we were of the preliminary view that individuals appearing on the “bad tenant” list had not provided their meaningful consent for the collection, use or disclosure of their personal information with respect to inclusion on the “bad tenant” list, as required by Principles 4.3 and 4.3.2.


In our view, in order for the Respondent to rely on any valid consent that may have been obtained by any third-party landlord for tenants’ inclusion on the “bad tenant” list, the Respondent would have to: (i) establish contractual terms stipulating that the members of the landlord association must obtain appropriate consent from tenants; and (ii) establish a method by which to obtain proof that the tenants affected have in fact consented.


It’s clear from our reading of the Privacy Commissioners findings that explicit consent from the tenant is required for your landlord to share your information with the Landlord Credit Bureau. If you did not give this consent you have a right to tell your landlord you do not consent and to cease any and all reporting to the LCB. If your landlord does not comply you are entitled to file a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Is Landlord Credit Bureau really a licensed credit bureau in compliance with Provincial and Federal Law?

LCB is licensed to operate in Ontario as a Credit Reporting Agency under the name 2642985 ONTARIO INC. As such it is governed by the Consumer Reporting Act. There is currently no finding of fact from the Registrar that Landlord Credit Bureau is not compliant with the Consumer Reporting Act but there have been issues with them not disclosing information as required under the act which are the subject of pending complaints.

UPDATE: We can now report that there are two government investigations into Landlord Credit Bureau. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada and the Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs are both looking into LCB and their practices. We are also aware of an investigation into LiveWell Property Management by the Privacy Commissioner of Canada. As these are matters under investigation we are refraining from publishing details at this time.

What is the Landlord Credit Bureau

The Landlord Credit Bureau is a private organization aiming to be a resource to landlords by providing a central database of tenants and their histories. Landlords can then access this service for a fee and use it as a tenant screening tool.

From their About page found at landlordcreditbureau.com:

Our mission is to improve the businesses and lives of landlords, property managers and responsible tenants. Landlords spend most of their time dealing with the lousy 10% of tenants who cause all of the problems. They rarely hear from the fantastic 90% of tenants and rarely have time to do something nice for them.

It’s unclear what the benefit to tenants is in this arrangement. The site claims vague benefits to the tenant such as:

Improve your credit report
Build a good tenant record
Skip the line, get the place you want
Monitor your records
Authenticate and rate your landlords