If you are apartment hunting, you will almost certainly be asked to provide a copy of your driver’s license.
That’s because landlords need a way to verify your identity and a driver’s license is one of the easiest ways to do this. Most people carry it around on their person and because it is government-issued and has a photo, it is a reliable way to confirm that someone is who they claim to be.
Verifying identity is a critical first step in the tenant screening process because almost every other step hinges on this. Landlords run credit checks, criminal background checks, and even residential history and employment verifications based on your stated identity.
So, now you know that landlords can (and almost always do) ask for your driver’s license as part of their application process.
But the story doesn’t end there. In this article, I am going to cover related questions you may have, including what you can do if you don’t have a driver’s license and some of the ways in which your landlord may use the information in your driver’s license.
Let’s get into it!
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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What If I Don’t Have a Driver’s License?
If you don’t have a driver’s license, you can talk with your landlord about providing other forms of identification. Government-issued documents with a photo are best, such as a passport, citizenship certificate, naturalization certificate, or military or state-issued id.
Less well known government IDs may include a government employee ID (if you work for the government), or even a prison ID.
A social security card or birth certificate is not as helpful because there is no photo accompanying it, but if you couple this type of ID with something that has your photo, your landlord may accept it.
What Will My Landlord Do With My Driver’s License?
As we mentioned above, landlords will use your driver’s license as part of the tenant evaluation process.
Some of the key things they want to confirm are you are who you say you are, you have a steady job or other source of income, your job allows you to make enough money to afford the property, you have a good history of paying rent and other obligations, your debt obligations are not radically out of line with your income, and you have demonstrated that you will generally be a good tenant.
Rental history and criminal background checks may come into play here.
Now before the landlord can do any of this, they will need a solid way to verify your identity and they will need your written permission to pull this data. That’s what you are agreeing to when you sign the rental application.
If you live in an apartment complex or a large building, the landlord may request a copy of your driver’s license to keep on file as part of their security processes.
Since the driver’s license is a valid photo identification, it can familiarize the personnel with the building’s occupants.
Another reason why your landlord may want a copy of your driver’s license is in the event that they need to track you down because you skipped out without paying outstanding debts to the landlord.
The information (including the full name of the tenant and driver’s license number) may help them do that.
So there you have it – a clear answer to the question of whether a landlord can ask for your driver’s license (they can) along with helpful tips on how to navigate the request when you don’t have one and a better understanding of what the landlord will do with your driver’s license.
Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!