Can Apartment Complexes Give Out Information on Renters?

by Jeannine Mancini

When you rent an apartment, your rights as a tenant are covered under local, state and federal laws. While the apartment complex may have access to your personal information, they must protect your privacy. Although specific landlord-tenant laws vary among states, a landlord can never legally disclose your personal information. If your landlord at an apartment complex intentionally disregards the laws and gives out your information, he could be held liable for any harm -- financial or otherwise -- that you endure as a result.

Lease Privacy Rights

Although mortgages and property deeds are public records, apartment leases are not recorded with the county clerk. Your lease is not a public record. The landlord can't disclose the details of your lease with anyone else. If you had to have a friend or family member co-sign for you to qualify for the lease, the landlord can contact the co-signer for payment if you fail to pay rent.

Credit Reports

Landlords have a legal right to check your credit and use the information to choose or reject your application. However, a landlord can only obtain confidential information with your consent. If you give permission for the landlord to check your credit, he can only check your credit. He can't use your consent for a credit report to run a background check. Landlords often maintain credit reports for at least two years after rejecting or accepting an applicant in case they are accused of discrimination or violating fair housing laws.

Storing Sensitive Information

Under the federal Disposal Rule of the Fair Credit and Accurate Credit Transaction Act, landlords must take special care of your credit report and any information taken from your credit report. It must be stored in a secure place where only those who need to know, such as the owner or property manager, have access, such as in a locked cabinet.

Disposing of Information

Your credit report and any other personal or financial information contained on your application must be carefully disposed of when it is no longer needed. If the apartment only has a small number of tenants, a simple shredder gets the job done. For larger apartments managed by third-party companies, files may be maintained electronically. The Disposal Rule requires that landlords purge all files stored on a computer and any other devices.

About the Author

Jeannine Mancini, a Florida native, has been writing business and personal finance articles since 2003. Her articles have been published in the Florida Today and Orlando Sentinel. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Central Florida.

Photo Credits

  • Dockside Housing image by Peter Jarvis from Fotolia.com