Here is a question to the blog clinic from Phaedra who is a tenant
Must I legally disclose the source of my income to a landlord?
I have offered 10-15 yrs bank statements to prove I have NEVER defaulted on my rent or any other bill for that matter and provided 3 EXEMPLARY references and offered to provide a credit reference too…. yet they still want to see my bank statements to see the SOURCES of my incomes… I have several btw!
What is my legal position, please?
I can understand why you are annoyed about this, and as an honest and responsible person, it may seem outrageous that you should not be believed and be asked to provide this very personal information.
However, you need to look at it from the landlord’s point of view.
The landlord knows nothing about you.
A property is a very valuable investment. Choosing the right tenant to live in it is probably the most important decision a landlord makes.
Because once a tenant is living in the property it will take a very long time, generally in the region of six months, to get them out again, if they prove to be unsatisfactory.
The most common problem landlords experience is tenants failing to pay rent. This can be catastrophic for many landlords. For example, if they have a mortgage on the property, they will still have to pay this whether or not the tenant pays rent to them. If they don’t the property can be repossessed by the mortgage company.
So they need to be sure that any tenant they choose can afford the rent. One of the best ways to check this is to ask for recent bank statements.
It is up to the landlord who he chooses to rent his property to. He is not allowed to discriminate unlawfully but he is perfectly entitled to ask a prospective tenant to provide any documents that he asks for. Asking for the most recent bank statements is common.
You can, of course, refuse to provide the documents. That is your right.
But then the landlord is equally entitled to refuse to rent the property to you and rent it to someone else. That is his right.
If you are the only person who applies for the tenancy then maybe, even if you refuse to provide the bank statements, he may still decide to rent it to you.
But usually, you will not be the only applicant.
In which case the landlord will be far more likely to rent to those prospective tenants who provide the documents asked for.
Wouldn’t you, if you were a landlord?