Why Does My Landlord Need My Driver License Number?

Tom Gaffey
by Tom Gaffey

Finding the perfect apartment can feel like a full-time job. You have a list of necessities you require in a living space and you likely are trying to stay within a reasonable budget. When you find the perfect place within your budget you are probably eager to submit the application and move in right away. But when a landlord asks you for sensitive information, including your driver’s license number it is normal to feel apprehensive.

Your landlord may ask you for your driver’s license number before or after you move in. A driver’s license number can be used to perform a credit check and criminal background check. Landlords often require a valid government-issued photo identification card prior to presenting you with a lease. The purpose of obtaining a driver’s license or driver’s license number is often to verify you are who you say you are.

Background Checks Are Standard

When you are hunting for the perfect apartment it is important to remember that landlords are hunting for the perfect tenant. Just as you have requirements for your rental unit, a landlord has requirements for tenants. There are many things a landlord cannot do. However, he or she does have the right to verify your background and identity.

A landlord may request documents in order to prove that you are an ideal candidate. Driver’s licenses and driver’s license numbers are frequently requested. A license can assist a landlord in performing a criminal campground check and a credit check. Landlords also like having a verifiable identification that links your face to your identity.

When You Do Not Have a Driver’s License Number

If you do not have a driver’s license you may be nervous that getting an apartment may prove difficult. When a landlord asks for your driver’s license on a rental application you should ask if other valid photo IDs are acceptable. The odds are you can use a different photo ID with a corresponding number in place of a driver’s license. First, confirm you have a valid form of photo identification.

What Is A Valid Photo ID

When landlords ask for a driver’s license number, they will also likely accept any other form of legal government identification. A driver’s License is often the most common form of valid government ID. There are, however, other forms of identification that can provide the same information your landlord is seeking.

State ID

Each state offers State Identification Cards. If you do not have a license or the ability to obtain a driver’s license, a state identification card is likely what you will use in its absence.


If you do not have a driver’s license your landlord may allow you to use your passport as a photo ID. First confirm the passport is not expired. A valid US passport should be able to provide your landlord with all the information he requires.

Other Government ID

Military identification or other specific valid government identification cards with a photo may also be acceptable. If you have a specific circumstance and a unique form of ID, be sure to let your prospective landlord know this.

Using Your License Number For Security Purposes

Although your license is often used as a tool for a background check it may also be used by security. If you live in a large building or complex this is common. If you are looking to move into a building that has a doorman or any hired security remember they need tools for success. It is often required that you provide a copy of a valid ID to the security or housing office. This allows security to be familiar with the occupants in the building.

Remember Discrimination Is Illegal

Your landlord has the right to ask you for your driver’s license, but this photo ID cannot be used to discriminate against you. Remember landlord’s cannot discriminate based on race, sex, or physical or mental handicap.

A landlord may learn some of these attributes through your driver’s license. It is illegal to make a decision based on any of those personal attributes.

Asking For ID After You Already Signed The Lease

Your landlord may ask you for information after you sign your lease. This information can vary. It may include your landlord requesting your driver’s license after you have already signed your rental agreement. Be sure you understand why your landlord is requesting the information before you provide it.

If The Building Requests Your ID

When a landlord requests documents from you after you signed your lease he or she likely forgot to request them initially. Otherwise, it is possible the policies in the building you live in have changed. When your landlord says the building is requesting a copy of your driver’s license you should ask the building to request this in writing. Often any legal form of ID will be appropriate.

Your Landlord Forgot To Ask For Your ID

If your landlord is requesting your license because he forgot to initially, you have the right to refuse. It is the responsibility of the landlord to collect all documents he or she desires from the tenant before the lease begins.

However, if you enjoy the place you live, remember the landlord does not need to renew your lease. If you are interested in resigning the lease when the terms expire it is important to maintain a cordial, or at least professional relationship with your landlord. You may need your landlord as a reference one day.

Avoid Getting Scammed

Meet In Person

When you are interested in signing a lease and your landlord is asking for personal documents you should meet them in person. There are many online scammers. Putting a face to an email address, and ideally an office location is a great way to be reassured. In-person meetings also allow for hard-copy documents and in-person signatures.

Research Your Landlord

Just as your landlord is seeking to know more about you, you should learn more about your potential landlord. The internet can provide all sorts of information. You can find out if your property is owned by the landlord or someone else (i.e. a company).

You can also find public records on your potential landlord. Any criminal records or links to bankruptcy are red flags that should be considered before providing sensitive information.

View The Apartment In Person

You should always view your potential rental in person before you begin the application process. If you are not able to view the place yourself try sending someone you trust. Not only will this confirm it is “as good as the pictures,” but it proves the place is real and legitimate.

Related Questions

Is My College ID A Valid Form Of ID?

Typically a school ID is not a valid form of identification. Although often a school ID can help you get discounts at places like museums and other locations, it does not carry the validity of a government issued ID. When someone is asking for a valid form of ID, they are usually looking for a photo ID that links you to your personal and financial identity. College IDs do not usually provide the necessary information to run a background check or hold you accountable.

Is An Expired License Still A Valid Photo ID?

If your license is expired you may wonder if it can still be used as a valid form of ID. If you are trying to use your expired license you should first check your state’s policies. Many states consider an expired ID invalid and unacceptable.Some states will allow an expired license to be valid for certain verification purposes up to 18 months after the expiration date. Best practice is to ask before you try and use the expired ID. Remember it is up to the individual or organization using your ID for verification purposes to accept or deny your expired license.

Can I Landlord Require My Social Security Number?

Just as a landlord can require a driver’s license or valid photo ID before renting you an apartment, he or she can require your social security number. Remember that it is legal but this information cannot be collected in a discriminatory manner.You do not have to provide your social security number if you are not comfortable. However, remember the landlord may choose not to rent to you if you don’t provide the requested information. 

Summing It Up

Remember that your prospective or current landlord will often ask you for some fairly sensitive information. Whether you need to prove your identity, your income or your clean criminal record – the entire process may feel a bit invasive.

If you are concerned that you should not provide your driver’s license number then listen to that instinct. Always do your research on your landlord or leasing office before offering up personal information like your driver’s license number.

Do not become a victim of identity theft. Be sure the deal is not too good to be true. Do not be afraid to ask your landlord why he is asking you for your driver’s license number. Also, remember that if you do not have a driver’s license there is likely a different form of identification that can work in its place.

Tom Gaffey
Tom Gaffey

Tom Gaffey is an expert writer who currently resides in Washington D.C. Tom has a passion for real estate and home improvement writing, as well as travel and lifestyle writing. He lived the last twelve years in Hawaii where he worked closely with luxury resorts and event planners, mastering his knowledge of aesthetics and luxury products. This is where he found his passion for home improvement and a keen interest in DIY projects. Currently, Tom resides in Washington D.C, and also working on his debut fiction novel.

More by Tom Gaffey