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.