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On a rental application, myself and one friend applied as tenants. We also listed my girlfriend as an occupant. The application was accepted and we signed a pretty standard lease (the exact sample lease that can be downloaded from the local county website).

Fast forward one month and we've had a dispute with the landlord (unrelated dispute over our rights to the basement). Following the dispute, my landlord is requesting my girlfriend's SSN, license info, paystubs, rental history etc. I reviewed the lease and realized they wrote my girlfriend in as a tenant, not occupant.. She was very clearly an occupant on the rental application.

Since we signed my girlfriend as a tenant, we decided to provide this info; however, the landlord sent us a new rental application and is demanding my girlfriend fill it out and sign it.

Were we required to provide our landlord with my girlfriend's personal information even though we already signed a lease? If so, can I request that my landlord send us a different form where my girlfriend's signature only signifies the information is correct to the best of her knowledge and doesn't give authorization for the full blown credit check and rental references? We specifically listed my girlfriend as an occupant on the original application to avoid the credit check. We'd prefer to avoid the hard inquiry on her history.

This question boils down to whether a landlord can request additional personal information and run credit checks on tenants after a lease has been signed. We're in Maryland if that helps.

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    I don't know Maryland law, but in general I see no reason why someone already on the lease -- therefore already accepted as a tenant -- should have to fill out an application. The rules for what information the landlord has a right to will certainly depend on the jurisdiction. I suspect that there's no right to run a credit check. – phoog Nov 4 '16 at 22:29
  • Did your girlfriend sign the lease agreement as a tenant or occupant at all ? – davidgo Nov 6 '16 at 4:51
  • As far as I can tell, she signed as a tenant. – LiamK Nov 6 '16 at 12:16
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If your girlfriend is paying part of the rent to the landlord, she is a tenant. If you are paying the entire rent, and your girlfriend is paying you, and she is willing to have no interaction with the landlord, she could be classified as an occupant.

The main difference is if she is protected by terms of the lease or not. As an occupant, she can be barred from the premises via trespassing laws if she violates premises rules. As a tenant, the landlord would have to go through eviction proceedings to keep her off the property.

I suspect you could push back and insist the landlord classify her as an occupant, but having first signed her on as a tenant will work against you.

Your best bet: Talk to the landlord about why you don't want them to run a credit check, and state that you and you alone will be paying rent. If you don't have the credit/income to qualify to do that and the landlord won't make an exception to their financial criteria, you might have another problem. The bottom line though is if you're paying rent on time and adhering to the rules of the premises, you should be able to negotiate quite a bit with your landlord.

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    Where do you get the definition of a tenant as someone who pays rent to the landlord directly? I wouldn't have guessed that to be particularly relevant. – George White May 4 at 20:26
  • Tenancy does not require that an individual pay any rent whatsoever; two people may be listed as tenants while only one pays the rent in any way; the implicit agreement amongst individual tenants as to who pays what proportion of all rent is completely separate from the explicit agreement between the grouped tenants and the landlord, subject to specific legislation to the contrary. You need to either justify that opening statement with a reference to such law or completely remove the first paragraph. I suggest the latter anyway, since the remainder doesn't require it at all. – Nij May 5 at 2:00
  • @Nij : OP referenced a standard Maryland lease template, which I assumed was for apartment rental: montgomerycountymd.gov/DHCA/Resources/Files/housing/… Relevant language: "Each Tenant is jointly and severally liable to Landlord/Agent for full performance under every covenant and condition of this Lease Agreement and for compliance with applicable law." I agree with your statement generally, but most boilerplate leases I've seen have language like this. They generally do not burden "occupants" with these responsibilities. – Capt Bob A. Lou May 6 at 16:07

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