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I will be looking to rent with no income, but significant savings.

For that, I'll probably need to give the prospective landlord my name, DoB, SSN (for credit check) and the savings account number.

I wonder if it's safe, and if it can be avoided: perhaps banks can verify the size of my savings account to the landlord without giving out the account number?

Perhaps there is something like a letter of credit, but for savings.

  • 1
    Why not just give them a copy of your bank statement with the account number blacked out? – JohnFx Sep 25 '15 at 2:33
  • @JohnFx I assumed that landlords could somehow call the bank and verify some info, which without the account number would be hard, but perhaps possible. That's really my question. – MaxB Sep 25 '15 at 2:50
  • Is that even legal? I've never had to provide any proof of income or balance before renting. Perhaps that's assumed with deposits/first month paid etc. – Dave Sep 25 '15 at 17:22
  • @Dave Legal and almost universal where I live or lived. Credit check and possibly references too. There are exceptions like when your school or employer is also your landlord. – MaxB Oct 11 '15 at 0:09
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Giving out your bank account number is not generally a security problem. The first time you write your landlord a security deposit or rent check, he'll have your account number. (It's printed on the check.)

That having been said, in my experience, banks do not generally give out balance information to just anyone who calls them up and gives them an account number. Have you asked the landlord what he needs? Perhaps showing him a printout of a recent bank statement is enough.

  • 1
    But that's usually a relatively low-balance checking account. – MaxB Sep 25 '15 at 2:24
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    The bigger security problem is that he will know your name, address and social security number so could apply for debt in your name. Knowing your account number in addition is a small difference. If I didn't trust anyone enough to give them my account number I wouldn't rent a house off them where they could walk right in and take my mail, passport etc. – MD-Tech Sep 25 '15 at 11:47
  • @MD-Tech Good point, but tenants don't run credit or background checks on their landlords -- there is no real reason to trust or mistrust your landlord in this situation. – MaxB Oct 11 '15 at 0:20
  • @MaxB my real point was that worrying about giving out your bank account number to someone who has keys to your house is a little shortsighted. If you don't feel that you can trust a potential landlord with your account number then you shouldn't trust them with your belongings in their house either so you shouldn't be considering renting from them in the first place! – MD-Tech Oct 14 '15 at 14:47
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Have you been rejected from a rental for a specific reason (leading to this question)? Landlords are in the business of exchanging space for regular payments with no drama. Anything they ask in an application should be something to minimize the risk of drama.

  • The "happy path" optimistic goal is that you pay your rent by the due date every month. If your income is not sufficient for this, demonstrating you have assets and would be able to pay for the full term of the lease is part of the decision to enter into the lease with you.

  • In the non-happy-path, say you fall off the face of the earth before ending the lease. The landlord could be owed several months of rent, and could pursue a legal judgment on your assets. With a court order, they can make the bank pay out what is owed; having bank information reduces the landlord's cost and research efforts in the event the story has degenerated to this point (in the jargon of landlording, this means the tenant is "collectable"). While of course you could have zeroed out your accounts or moved money to a bank you didn't tell the landlord in the meantime, if you are not the bad actor in this story, you probably wouldn't have.

  • If you get any kind of "spidey-sense" about a landlord or property at all there is probably a better rental situation in your city. You also want to minimize drama. If the landlord is operating like a business, they're not in this to perform identity theft. If the landlord is sloppy, or has sloppy office workers, that would be different.

In the event sharing your asset information truly bothers you, and the money is for rental expense anyway, you could offer to negotiate a 1 year prepaid rental (of course knock another 5%-10% off for time value of money and lower risk to landlord) if you're sure you wouldn't want to leave early.

1

Ask your bank to write a letter asserting that you have $xxxxx on deposit with them, on their letterhead?

Though realistically, the chance of your getting hit with identity theft In this situation, when you presumably know exactly who you're dealing with, are vanishingly small.

1

If you're worried about the account number just take a statement and black out the account number with a Sharpie or the like. That is if the account number even appears on it, these days it often doesn't.

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